If I'm Going to Spend My Life Working
In If I’m Going to Spend My Life Working, I taught a six week creative writing class to men at PA State Correctional Institute Pittsburgh (formerly Western State, now closed) through Words Without Walls. Together, we meditated on the idea of "work" and learned to define it as the things we do that help us know who we are. We read excerpts of Raul Vaneigem's Revolution of Everyday Life, Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, poems and song lyrics by many artists and after six weeks students elected to contribute their writing to be a part of If I'm Going to Spend my Life Working at Mine Factory for Labor Day 2016.
These reflections on work, I stitched into fabric in front of a gallery audience alternating from 5pm to 9pm and 9am to 5pm over the course of a week. The audience members were asked to read aloud to me the full texts that contained the excerpts I was stitching, and when the panels were finished, they used those panels to enclose my work in a composition made of the men’s voices.
This project was made possible in part by Words Without Walls a creative writing outreach program formed through a partnership between Chatham University
Creative Writing Program, Allegheny County Jail, SCI Pittsburgh, and Sojourner house. A portion of sales of this artwork is donated to help continue
bringing creative writing courses to people in recovery and behind bars in Pennsylvania. The names attributed to writings in this project are pen names, changed to comply with PA laws and regulations. If you are interested in learning the identity of a writer, please contact me.
-Lindsey Peck Scherloum