Restorative Justice Expressive Arts

Restorative Justice Expressive Arts combines the principles and practices of restorative justice with creative expression to facilitate healing in individuals who have suffered harm, trauma, violence and loss. Restorative Justice Expressive Arts circles become a place of support and inspiration where thoughts and emotions that arise from the circle experience are expressed through hands-on art projects. Art making can provide a space for expressing difficult emotions and give individuals a renewed sense of agency, discovery and hope. Combining restorative justice practices with arts enables people and communities to heal from harm in a creative and dynamic way. The resulting work becomes a powerful external expression of our collective human potential for transformation and healing.

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Forgiveness Healing Cloak: Inspired by the Egungun dance costumes of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, the panels were made by men in RSVP. The painted charms and amulets contain individual wishes, prayer and inspirational words. The tassels serve to cleanse the space allowing forgiveness and healing.


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The Smallest Light Shines in the Darkest Night – Accordion Books: This collection of stories were written by members of a restorative justice writing group inspired by the question: “When was it not safe to be yourself?” Audio recordings of full stories available.

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The whole peace: Restorative Justice Poetry from Inside San Bruno Jail: This poetry compilation was written as part of a restorative justice poetry circle inside San Bruno inspired by discussion themes of harm/trauma, power, belonging, relationships, self-love/self-definition, and forgiveness. Poetry was used as a means to help participants find and remain in touch with their authentic selves. Full PDF available.

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Inside Out Masks: These masks were created by RSVP and depict the dichotomy between the maker’s composed persona on the outside and their “hidden” self on the inside.

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We Are All Alone Together: Exploring the African philosophy of “Sankofa,” learning from the past, participants created collaged silhouettes that referenced their journey of learning from their inherited legacies and personal journeys. The pieces are connected to another by “veins” of red string symbolizing interconnectivity and community.

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Still A Flower: This quilt was put together by women whose lives have been disrupted by incarceration using old jail t-shirts. Inspired by the women of Gees Bend, Alabama, a small rural community of slave descendants, the quilt reflects the tradition of using old clothes to tell the story of family and community.