Maria Maneos – Brush With the Law

Date grant awarded: March 2019

The BWTL program creates and makes art outside of the typical realm of art making. Our venture or end goal is the illumination of social consciousness. We do not just make and place art objects for display, although we do that too, but create an experience meant to help change perceptions on what it means to be human no matter what class of society one identifies with. Like TPP, we strive to have effects that reach far beyond our community alone, we intentionally try to start an ongoing dialogue with the public by tackling uncomfortable social issues like heroin/opiate addiction. Our art projects create a collaborative and inclusive environment that brings people together to overcome challenges, provide a creative outlet for participants and offer the community an opportunity to experience working with – or benefiting from – the efforts of socially disadvantaged individuals.

Social inclusion involves feeling accepted within your local community and being able to contribute to society in a meaningful way, many people who access our services have experienced persistent social exclusion. I am intimately aware of the real goodness and hurt inside of each person struggling with incarceration and addiction. My son, a bright young man destined for success, unscrupulously became addicted to opioids, then heroin while in high school. Eventually, he was incarcerated for an addiction-related, nonviolent offense. I was shocked and frightened to visit the county jail, but went anyway. When I looked into the eyes of my child and his fellow inmates, I saw goodness, desperation, hurt, and potential. When I asked what they did all day and the answer was “nothing,” I decided to launch Brush With the Law. Through our creative projects and services, we have been able to help our constituents reconnect and build sustainable and meaningful ties within the community.

Receiving the initial seed grant was an indication to me that Brush With the Law was destined for great things and would be much more than” just an art class” at our county jail. The Pollination Project believed in what I set out to do from the get go and supported my ideas and desires to work with socially marginalized populations using the visual arts. The seed grant helped reinforce and expand my thinking for future development of the program as a whole. It provided me the opportunity to nurture an idea and watch it grow, just a s a seed does when properly cared for.

Receiving the larger follow up award will allow Brush With the Law to expand upon an idea for a new project/experiment that has been in development to help promote mental health thru secret telling. Fortunately, being awarded this grant makes us able to start the process of trial and error, and experimentation and play; the exact things needed for success and unexpected, useful discoveries.

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