2019 05 08 Sq Arts In Corrections Photo

Carol Newborg, in purple, with the artists and instructors of the San Quentin Prison Arts Project. Photo by Peter Merts.

Video by Rob Stewart, Television Specialist
Office of Public and Employee Communications

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(Editor’s note: The story below contains embedded links that may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)

Meet Carol Newborg, program manager for the San Quentin Prison Arts Project, a William James Association Arts in Corrections program that offers robust arts instruction inside the walls of San Quentin State Prison.

Newborg has been teaching art in prisons for nearly 40 years, and shared with Inside CDCR how art programs help incarcerated people not only express themselves in a positive way, but can also inspire them to explore other avenues of rehabilitation.

“It hooks people into feeling positive,” she told J Weekly . “It’s a gateway to getting people back to school. People end up pursuing an Associate of Arts degree inside and get out. It’s a path to transformation.”

Arts in Corrections is a partnership between CDCR and the California Arts Council to provide structured arts instruction inside state prisons, taught by professional artists. The classes are now offered at all 35 adult institutions, and range from painting and drawing to theater, beading, music and dance.

Watch the YouTube video (may not play on a CDCR computer):

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With the way it is on the paper…

Carol Newborg

Right, because you’re getting that warmth, the warm color coming in. You can see that, it just feels like light.

I’m Carol Newborg and I’m the program manager for Arts in Corrections here at San Quentin.

I’ve been working with Arts in Corrections since 1984 because it’s always fascinating, I’m always inspired.

I meet people that might come in here and be sort of closed down, and then I see them as they get into the art and find ideas.

It helps people change and grow and develop self-awareness.

And it inspires me to see the kind of change that people can make.

Mark Stanley

Right now I’m doing this dot, or stippling.

I’m doing another watercolor.

You have to change the medium, so there’s a different way you have to approach that piece.

So it would be like in life.

I’m putting too much stress or too much focus.

Maybe I need to refocus and give you an opportunity to present, you know, your situation, and then say “ah ha!”

It’s not an “uh-oh” moment anymore.

It’s an “ah ha” moment.


There’s brilliant artists here.

I mean, I relate to them as in oh my God this is intimidating.

There’s so much talent here.

There’s so much intelligence.

You know, given room and opportunity to grow, it’s just mind-boggling.

What do you think of the oranges next?

You know, I try to bring visual ideas, bring suggestions, look at how somebody else worked with this idea.

You know, it’s sort of a give and take between my experience with work on the outside and what I think they’d respond, you know, be interested in.

And especially great is how people of more experience are helping those who have less.

Just that kind of sharing of technique, you know, try this pen.

You know, there’s a lot of positive interaction here that makes it pretty comfortable.