Hartford, Connecticut, October 3, 2017 – This week marks the premiere of a documentary film, Making Me Whole – Prison, Art & Healing, showcasing the arts intervention programs of Trinity College Professor of Theater and Dance Emerita Judy Dworin ’70 and her nonprofit organization, Judy Dworin Performance Project (JDPP).

The 30-minute documentary―part of which was filmed at Trinity―will air on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) on Thursday, October 5, at 8:00 p.m., and on Sunday, October 8, at 12:00 p.m. Also on Thursday, October 5, a free screening of the film will take place at 7:15 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library’s Center for Contemporary Culture (click here for details).

Dworin and JDPP have become known nationally for arts engagement programs that empower incarcerated or previously incarcerated individuals and their families to express their emotions and experiences through art, thereby facilitating healing and transformation. One of JDPP’s programs is New Beginnings, a weekly arts workshop in which women who have been released from York Correctional Institution and are part of Community Partners in Action’s Resettlement Program participate alongside Trinity College students. Utilizing expressive arts activities, the group works to explore the challenges of re-entry and support the women after their time in prison.

Produced in partnership with Connecticut Public Television and under the direction of Emmy award-winning videographer John O’Neill, the new film documents the process of transformation, demonstrating the stark realities of incarceration, its impact on families, and the healing power of the arts partnered with social service.

Judy Dworin, left, gathers with New Beginnings program participants in a Trinity dance studio.

Trinity student and human rights studies major Celeste Gander ’19, who has participated in New Beginnings and served as a Human Rights Fellow with JDPP this past summer, said, “The New Beginnings course and others offered in the Trinity Prison Seminar Series have been some of the most intellectually enriching experiences I have had at Trinity.”

“There is something incredibly humanizing about the work that Judy and her organization do, and it is work that is so necessary today as our country has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Programs like New Beginnings challenge us to think critically about real world problems such as our prison system,” said Gander.

Recent Trinity graduate Margaret Brown ’17 said that she feels so strongly about the impact of the New Beginnings program that she has continued her involvement post-graduation. “I think the greatest reward that New Beginnings has offered me over the past three years is a self-conscious awareness and deep appreciation of how sacred the gift of freedom is, not only in the literal sense of physical freedom―like that experienced by the women who have been previously incarcerated―but also in the sense of achieving a freedom from the burdens of our past experiences that allows us to heal,” said Brown, who works at the Yale Child Study Center in a program that supports young mothers and fathers with substance use disorders.

Dworin said, “This documentary hopefully will reach a broad cross-section of people and bring awareness to alternative approaches to incarceration. Healing is an essential component that most often is left out of the discussion. The arts, in partnership with social service, open up critical avenues of transformation and change.”

The Judy Dworin Performance Project is a nonprofit organization of professional artists who innovate, inspire, educate, and collaborate to harness the arts as a catalyst for creative expression, community building, and positive change. Its other programming includes the Moving Matters! residency program and its professional dance/theater ensemble. JDPP also participates as a partner in Free to Succeed, a Trinity College-led program that offers college study in prison and post-release for women at York Correctional Institution.

The production of Making Me Whole – Prison, Art & Healing was supported in part through funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mid-America Arts Alliance, New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Department of Economic and Community Development: Connecticut Office of the Arts. More Art For More People.

After October 8, the film will be available on CPTV’s website here​.

Written by Kathy Andrews
Photo by John Atashian