December 4, 2023: When our visual arts teacher, Sharmila Karamchandani has a class, we know magic happens. Her art challenges are always creative and meaningful, but even we weren’t prepared for … creating a man cave? Yes, that’s what she asked the artists of the Arlington County Detention Facility Community Readiness Unit (CRU) to imagine. On her Facebook page Sharmila wrote, “…I am always surprised to see the end result what comes out during these sessions…I always leave with so much to think and contemplate about. I feel blessed to be able to do this type of work in the community and let art be the vehicle to create meaningful conversations and hear people out. Each person has so much to offer if we care to listen.”
Top left: This person has always loved this retro design chair, speakers, a carpet where he can pray, a singing bowl and bowl to burn sage during his meditation.
Top right: This person has put colourful lights that drop from the ceiling, a table at the center to sit and play games. A library of books as he loves to read, bean bags to sit on, a big TV and all four corners have speakers for surround sound.
Bottom left: This person drew icons of what would be prominent in his man cave. Definitely music and peace and balance.
Bottom right: This person has a sacred place where he can go pray, meditate. He didn’t want any other distractions. He said he can process better in silence and recharge when there are no distractions.
October – November 2023: Securing a job is a top priority for people returning to the community after incarceration. And, that first impression with a potential employer makes all the difference. Our award-winning actor/ producer/ public speaking teacher Mike Baker helped the women in the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center learn those skills, and along the way, give them confidence and a head start on post-incarceration success.
By Ashley Laney
Friends of Guest House, Heard spoken word class, August 26, 2023
Third place, Fiction, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, October 2023
(handwritten story follows typed story)
Of course the alchemist didn’t teach me alchemy. I’m no sheep. Exactly when did those 48 laws go through the House and Senate? Which president dropped the ball on that veto?
I fear often of breaking powerful laws, for surely it must follow powerful law enforcement. The enforcers read Sun Tzu. There’s a new tank in my township so I guess it’s safe to say they prefer war. 3 years consecutive in Iraq. Hours clocked, plentiful job experience. I have this unprofessional doubt he’s more than fit for the job. Serve the country, serve the community.
Look at the art, I prefer art. I think of Banksy’s bow tie helicopter from my past. Full circle. On second thought, was it a bow tie or a bow, like the one on the tank. What a present. Of course I didn’t learn alchemy.
I’ve never left this country. When I’m an old man will there still be one for me? The powerful enforcers of powerful laws read Sun Tzu. As did I….once.
I prefer art. I see the art in most things. Life reflects art, reflects life, reflects art reflects. Mirrors reflect, light refracts.
I didn’t start with that man. In the beginning there was. Light refracts, mirrors reflect, life reflects art reflects life reflects.
Did you see that mural? Those murals? I haven’t seen them all but, art reflects, life reflects, mirrors reflect, lakes reflect. The willow on this on the bank is weeping because the lakes water is mostly tears. Art reflects…life reflects…lakes reflect…eyes reflect.
There’s a depth to reflection, and still, all reflection requires a surface. His career experience kept him in our community. His colleagues marched right past that mural. They read Sun Tzu. They prefer war.
Art reflects, life reflects, art reflects, life reflects, mirrors reflect, light refracts.
I didn’t start with that man. The light was at the beginning. I’ll gladly let you borrow my book, but you won’t learn alchemy. Powerful enforcement for powerful laws. May I suggest Sun Tzu?
I prefer art.
Pardon me officer, which agency exactly enforces the universal law? Universal law enforcement. Powerful enforcement for powerful laws.
One more question officer, which way is the mural? I took a weekend off to see some art in this city. I haven’t seen all the murals.
Art reflects life reflects art reflects life reflects. Light.
There was light in the beginning. Light refracts mirrors reflect, art reflects, life reflects, lakes reflect, eyes reflect.
Can a surface be deep? I prefer art. I need rest. I sat under the willow on the bank of the lake. It still weeps. I’ve heard the lakes water is mostly tears. I left my phone. It’s better we not be sheep, at least sometimes,
I only have one book. I sit under the shade of the tree. I never left this country. When I’m an old man will there be a country left for me? Will I be an old man?
I prefer art. I opened the book & read. Of course I’m not going to learn alchemy, but I remember there being light at the beginning. Light refracts. I love art. My eyes take in the surface of the pages.
Art reflects. As does life, mirrors, eyes… and lakes. Maybe surfaces can be deep. Light refracts. I remember it at the beginning. Light can be hot. It’s getting hot. I walked to the edge of the bank. The willow weeps. The sun has moved so the shade is no longer cast the same.
The light is hot. Such a beautiful reflection on the lakes surface. The willow, the skies, a bird, a dragonfly.
I prefer art. I almost didn’t notice my own reflection. Life reflects. Surfaces can have depth. Light refracts. The light is hot. Maybe I’ll go for a swim.
By Robert Payne
Poetry, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, October 2023