SUN SEPT 13 / 5-7PM
Velocity Founders Theater 1621 12th Ave
FREE + open to all

The arts have a transformative impact on people who are incarcerated in America, and the artists who work with them. This Speakeasy focuses on cultural workers creating and collaborating inside of America’s prisons and juvenile detention centers.

In America’s criminal justice system, prisoners are separated by physical, racial, socio-economic, and geographic boundaries. Artists on the outside and inside are collaborating and creating fascinating work in many disciplines across these boundaries. Please join us for this important conversation.

Hosted by Leigh Sugar with Pat Graney, Lillian Hewko, Eli Hastings, Aaron Counts, + Daemond Arrindell.







LEIGH SUGAR began working with incarcerated individuals through the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), where she facilitated creative writing workshops with men incarcerated in Michigan state prisons. She also edited PCAP’s annual Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing for three years. Now based in Seattle, she teaches yoga to incarcerated youth through Yoga Behind Bars, and is currently curating and editing an anthology of writing by non-incarcerated artists who teach creative workshops in prisons.

is a Seattle-based artist working in dance/installation. The Pat Graney Company has toured to most major American cities as well as abroad.  Ms. Graney is the recipient of Fellowships for her work including a Guggenheim and the NEA. She is a US Artist Award recipient and an Alpert Awardee. Ms. Graney received the Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust/Dale Chihuly Foundation in 2011, and in 2013 was awarded a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. 2014 is the 20th Anniversary of Keeping the Faith/The Prison Project (KTF), which began in 1992 and led to a fully developed program in 1995. KTF is an arts-based educational program for incarcerated women and girls, and has been conducted in over 20 prisons across America as well as abroad. Ms. Graney is currently creating a new work entitled ‘Girl Gods,’ set to premiere at On the Boards October 1-4, 2015.

, Incarcerated Parents Project attorney at the Washington Defender Association, assists defense attorneys representing incarcerated parents and develops legislative policy and advocacy strategies to help reduce the chances of family separation and parental incarceration. Lillian co-founded the Incarcerated Mothers Advocacy Project (IMAP), which uses the reproductive justice framework to center incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals as leaders in advocating for systemic change. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Legal Voice in 2013, she helped lead the passage of the Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill. A 2011 graduate of the University of Washington School of Law and a Gates Public Service Scholar, she identifies as a queer, mixed-Latina from a working-class background. Reproductive justice and prison abolition ideals are integral to her work and led to her desire to use law as a tool to create social change.

ELI HASTINGS is a therapist, author and teaching artist.  He started out with a desire to do human rights work internationally, but the siren song of creative writing got him. Through teaching and writing nonfiction narratives, and ultimately through working for years with Pongo Teen Writing in Juvenile Detention, he’s relieved to find that he is indeed doing human rights work through Pongo as well as his private practice, Changing Stories Counseling.” In 2013, Eli published his own healing narrative – a memoir, Clearly Now, the Rain – after the traumatic death of his closest friend due to her own trauma, mental illness and addiction. 

has seen firsthand the transformative power of art. He has written and read with professors, prisoners, dropouts, and scholars. He is a long-time teaching artist with the Writers-in-the-Schools program, and is the lead engagement artist for Creative Justice, 4Culture’s arts-based alternative to incarceration for King County youth. Aaron holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia, and is the co-author of the curriculum, Reclaiming Black Manhood. His writing has recently appeared in Specter MagazineBestiary, Aldebaran Review, The Furnace radio series, and Rufous City Review.

is a poet, performer, and teaching artist. Faculty member of Freehold Theatre and co-facilitator of poetry and theater residencies at Monroe Correctional Complex for men; Writer-In-Residence through Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools Program; and mentor artist for Creative Justice – using art as an alternative to incarceration for youth in the court system. He has performed in venues across the country and has been repeatedly commissioned by both Seattle and Bellevue Arts Museums. In 2013, he was selected for the Jack Straw Writers program, published in Specter magazine and chosen for “13 for ‘13,” a joint project between the Seattle Times and KUOW, profiling thirteen influential people in Seattle’s art scene. In 2014, he was a VONA Voices Writers’ Workshop fellow. More recently Daemond performed alongside Sherman Alexie and has joined the faculty of TAT Lab, the Washington state Teaching Artist Training Lab.


The 2015 Speakeasy Series is made possible thanks to the generous support of Robert Stumberger and the Seattle Foundation’s GiveTogether Arts Engagement Grant Program.