Celebrating Art and Healing

Celebrating Art and Healing


Laura’s first introduction to The Fortune Society was in graduate school while working to complete her thesis. She wanted to partner with an organization that served individuals impacted by the criminal legal system while also prioritizing art as a healing tool, an intersection that Laura noted is quite rare. She joined Fortune’s Arts team in 2020 and has remained a strong presence in the community since.  

Laura began her work at Fortune facilitating Creative Writing workshops. There, she connected with Fortune poets, who aided her in creating the Art Portal. The Art Portal is an online platform co-created with participants for people impacted by the criminal legal system. It aims to raise awareness about the vital role of art as a tool for healing and changing the narrative about people with justice involvement. It provides a space for members of the Fortune arts community to share their work, whether writing, music or visual media.  

“I learned during my thesis research that it is very important for people to feel like they have a legacy and they are leaving something behind,” Laura explained. “They want to feel like their work, presence and words are going out into the world and not just staying in their notebooks.”

After graduating, Laura returned to Fortune full-time in partnership with Creatives Rebuild New York in the Artist Employment program. Joined by two other artists, Jenny and Russell, they planned to expand the Creative Arts community’s presence at Fortune.  

“When we were brainstorming, we talked about wanting to make Fortune an arts powerhouse and to expand the reach of healing through arts in a community that has been historically left out of art opportunities,” Laura shared. “We wanted to bring in as many people into the arts program as possible.”    

Laura facilitates weekly art-making workshops for participants, including collage-making, printmaking, painting and more. The weekly workshops allow participants to experiment with different art mediums and use art as a form of transformation therapy.  

“We see people relax and take their hood down. We see them smile a little bit, and that is a huge win for someone who is always in defensive mode, looking for who will come after them next,” Laura explained. “It's about allowing them to let their defenses down when drawing or painting, and that is healing. That is how you connect with your innermost human part.”

Laura is also responsible for crafting the Arts Festival’s visual identity, including developing a logo and flyer, and the designs used for the screen-printing workshop. This year’s festival on June 22 will feature live music, spoken word performances and hands-on art workshops. 

Community events, like the Arts Festival, bring together not only the Fortune community but other individuals who may not have any knowledge of Fortune’s work. Laura shared that contributing to and working at the festival each year has remained one of the most rewarding experiences during her time with Fortune.  

At last year’s festival, Laura designed a graphic for a screen-printing station. It featured Fortune’s slogan, “Building People, Not Prisons,” and the design was printed on tote bags for attendees to take home. Laura overheard a child asking their parent what the slogan meant, sparking a conversation about Fortune’s mission and impact.  

“It was one of those moments that felt fulfilling, and I felt proud of our work. It wasn’t a flashy moment, but it’s conversations like that can change people’s minds and hearts. That is what I’m here for.”   

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