Hooks, Yarns, and Bars: Folk Arts Programming in an Oregon Prison

Welcome to the official page for “Hooks, Yarns, and Bars,” a fieldwork project undertaken by The Oregon Folklife Network (OFN) and the Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID) (both at the University of Oregon) to document the work of the Crochet Club and the Hobby Arts Shop at the Oregon State Correctional Institute.  This site serves as a digital companion piece to the “Hooks, Yarns, and Bars” traveling exhibit that continues to tour the Pacific Northwest.

More about the Project:

Meeting four nights a week to crochet blankets and hats, a group of incarcerated men in Salem, Oregon have formed a club to make items to donate to their community. They give blankets to disabled vets and to women in domestic violence shelters; they make hats for cancer patients and create scarves for the homeless. The men, all inmates at the Oregon State Correctional Institute (OSCI), represent an often-overlooked, underrepresented facet of our prison population– inmates organizing themselves and working together to create opportunities for education, artistic outlets, and the chance to make amends or give back to the communities that they have harmed.

The United States, with less than five percent of the world’s population, holds almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. According to the 2010 Global Peace Index, the U.S. ranks 85th out of 149 countries in the world, due most significantly to our incarceration rates. Considering the role of the arts in prisons as a means to overcome conflict, as well as its substantial affects on reducing recidivism rates, “Hooks, Yarns, and Bars” raises awareness of the human faces of the incarcerated while highlighting the ways in which collaborative cultural efforts of prisoners can create peace both inside and outside of the prison’s walls.

In addition to donating items to tsunami relief, cancer patients, veterans organizations, and numerous individuals, the Crochet Club at OSCI has donated items to the following groups:

Children’s Justice Alliance
Shriner’s Hospital
Helping Hands
Christ the Child
DePaul’s Teen Treatment Center
Habitat for Humanity
Orphans of America
Portland Rescue Mission
Union Gospel Mission-Salem
Red Lodge
Razor Wire

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