Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project receives $40K for visual arts classes

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Auburn University’s Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project was recently awarded $40,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts for visual arts classes and workshops.

Auburn’s award was part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018, where the organization committed to $80 million in grants.

"Over the last 14 years, the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project has offered visual arts classes through continued support from the NEA,” says Kyes Stevens, program director and founder. “Programs like this one depend on the vision of the NEA to get access to art into all places, even those that take more effort to get to. The NEA sees our students as artists contributing to the greater world through art."

Auburn’s award was given under the Art Works category, which is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through arts. 

The visual arts workshops that will be created with the grant are based on college-level curriculum and will include courses in the fundamentals of drawing, watercolor, and block-cut printing culminating in a collaborative mural project. A touring exhibition will be presented, accompanied by an anthology of student produced creative works. The project will empower incarcerated men and women in Alabama state prisons to realize their creative potential through the stimulus of artistic curiosity and pedagogy. Participants achieve aesthetic and personal goals, as well as develop a productive and supportive community of artists.

APAEP is dedicated to bringing educational opportunities to those in prison in Alabama through a partnership with the Alabama Department of Corrections. Faculty and staff currently teach 238 students, offering more than 17 classes including semester-long courses in arts, humanities, science and math in eight correctional facilities across the state. APAEP recently received a $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a program that offers students at Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore County the opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University. APAEP began as an arts and humanities program, offering creative and intellectual opportunities to individuals in Alabama's prisons. The program has grown significantly in scope since its inception in 2002, and today, Auburn University is one of the few public land-grant institutions chosen to participate in the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, a federal financial aid program providing roughly a third of the tuition for students in prison.

The Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project is a program of the College of Architecture, Design and Construction at Auburn University. More information can be found at

The College of Architecture, Design and Construction embraces the land grant mission of Auburn University by actively seeking ways to address and anticipate the critical issues of the region, the nation, and the world. The College's highly regarded programs in architecture, industrial design, landscape architecture, construction management and real estate development as well as unique off-campus programs such as Rural Studio, Urban Studio, futures studio and the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Program expand the boundaries of the classroom and offer an unmatched educational experience.