An Open Window
Open Window is a project in which the director, Treacy Ziegler, goes
into maximum-security prisons to teach art to incarcerated individuals.
The project also donates professional artwork to prisons with the goal
of involving non-artists into the process of art. It
is the vision of this project for the prison community to have the
fullest and most complex experience of art. This full experience occurs
when both viewers and artists are understood as equal participants in
the creative and transformative power of art. When art is experienced as
a partnership bringing both viewer and artist into a shared world
through their feelings to that art, the dehumanizing nature of prison
life, of inmates and prison staff alike, is lessened.
In this project Treacy asks and challenges the prison community to understand art in a way that is different than the way art has traditionally been understood and used in prisons. Art is not a tool for therapy, rehabilitation, or busy time. Art is ambiguous and “spiritual” in the sense that it cannot be put into tidy definitions and no one can dictate what or whom it will eventually influence. In contrast, prison is concrete walls, cells, routine, and clear definitions where nothing is ambiguous: inmates are inmates and officers are officers. It is the goal of this project to help the individuals in these institutions to venture further into the ambiguity of art.
Treacy Ziegler is an exhibiting artist and over the past twenty years has had about thirty exhibitions in major galleries in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Alexandria, VA, and Corning, NY. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Prior to attending art school, Treacy received a Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. At that time, she worked as a family therapist and social worker primarily in the housing projects of Philadelphia. In An Open Window project she brings both her skills and vision as an artist with her social work experience to develop a complex understanding of both art and the viewer’s relationship to that art.