What is Artz4Kidz?
In 2020, we started Artz4Kidz as an educational platform that provided Art History micro lessons for middle school students. Although successful in reaching hundreds of students, we realized based on heartfelt student feedback that we could have greater societal impact if we focused our attention on an important underserved opportunity – empowering children who have or had an incarcerated parent to voice and share their stories through inspiring artworks.
Our hope is to provide a platform for these “invisible” children who through no fault of their own have been impacted by systemic incarceration – missing a parent/caretaker for an indefinite period of time – and oftentimes have a perceived stigma within the classroom and society, and have limited economic means and mentorship to be a successful contributor to society. Our mission is to shed the light on these children and their stories, and give them an enabling opportunity to educate us through their artwork and give us an opportunity to assist as a caring society.
Why children of those incarcerated?
As many of you know, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, representing roughly 25% (2.2 million prisoners) of the world’s total prison population. Not only do we have the most prisoners, but we also have a high recidivism (back to jail) rate, indicating that the rehabilitation and counseling within our jails are inadequate. This not only affects those incarcerated for an offense, but also their families and children who have not.
As we know from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s/1960s and recent Black Lives Matter Movement, our criminal justice system is fraught with racial and gender biases and unfortunately, not all of us yet have equal rights under the law. As we know, this incarceration and recidivism issue disproportionately affects minority groups or those with low social-economic backgrounds. For example, the imprisonment rate of black males is roughly 6 times higher than white males, and the rate of black females is roughly 2 times higher than white females. So it’s all a race issue.
Although California ranks 20th in imprisonment rates at 0.3%, it has the second largest prison population with over 120,000 – that’s over 120,000 California families impacted.