Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies

Project Topic:
Youth incarceration in the U.S.

Project Goal:

  • To use art and crafts to raise awareness on the lasting impacts that youth detention centers have on young people in the U.S.
  • To create a quilt that represents the aerial view of 12 detention centers in the U.S. using photos taken by Prison Kids project.

Lesson Plan | Day 1

  • Introduction: Ask students to share their names, preferred pronouns, and what they care about
  • Introduce students to personal work focusing on projects like 5.4 Million and Counting, you said you were fine on nights like this, and i hope to find you at the end of this. Slideshow here.
  • Introduce students to art as activism projects by contemporary artists using fiber art. Slideshow here.
  • Go over project overview and give assigned reading for homework. Link to assigned reading.

Lesson Plan | Day 2

  • Ask students to discuss reading and details that resonate with them
  • Share statistics from the Burns Institute and Fusion

According to Fusion, “roughly 54,000 kids are locked up in youth detention centers each night across the America. Another 5,400 are cloistered in adult jails and prisons.”

According to Burns Institute, roughly 405 kids are locked up in youth detention centers each night in New York State. 80% of them are youth of color.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention, an estimated 70 percent of the kids inside detention centers have diagnosed mental disorders, and 30 percent have attempted suicide while on the inside.

According to Youth First Initiative, there are approximately 80 facilities in the U.S. that were established more than 100 years ago or have 100 beds or more.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, survey found one in ten youth in youth prisons have been sexually victimized.

According to Youth First Initiative, in New York State the annual cost of most expensive confinement option per youth is $352,663 while the annual cost of public school education is $19,818 per student.

  • Share bird’s-eye view images of youth prisons around the U.S.    
  • Ask students to create a collage from these images as the basis of the quilt.

Lesson Plan | Day 3

  • Allow students to finish their collages in the first 15 minutes of the class
  • Once students are done with their drawing, go over the tools and process in quilt making

Fabric swatches
Rotary cutters
Cutting mats
Fabric glue

Hand sewing
Rotary cutting
Fabric cutting

  • After the demonstration, students are asked to pick out their quilt fabric and cut their swatches to 10x10 in.
  • From their drawings, they can start cutting out shapes to represent the bird’s-eye view of the prisons
  • Collect drawings at the end of the class to create a master collage for the final quilt
This was the best part of my school year except for the last day because there’s no more school the next day. I really liked my heart design more and more each time I sewed the pattern into the quilt. This was sort of close to me as a project because I have many people in jail in my family for drugs. I sewed the heart for them and the kids we saw in the movies.”
— Destiny, Student

Lesson Plan | Day 4

  • Share with students preliminary quilt design and return students’ drawings so they can continue to work on their own swatches
  • Students work on their swatches for the rest of the period

Lesson Plan | Day 5

  • Demonstrate fabric gluing techniques
  • Students work on their swatches for the entire period

 Lesson Plan | Day 6

  • Demonstrate piecing techniques using pins to combine swatches together into one quilt
  • Students work together on quilt composition and piecing for the rest of the period 

Lesson Plan | Day 7

  • Demonstrate batting technique
  • Students work together on quilt composition and piecing for the rest of the period 
I love art and like computer graphics but you made me love quilting. I never thought I would sew anymore since my grandma died but you and Stephen showed me how and that made me happy.
— Faisal, Student

Lesson Plan | Day 8

  • Demonstrate binding technique
  • Students work together to finish the batting and binding processes for the rest of the period 

 Lesson Plan | Day 9

  • Each student will present for 5 minutes in front of the class on the quilt square
  • Which prison they chose to depict? Why?
  • Which story from the Youth First Initiative spoke to them?
  • Students celebrate the quilt and package the quilt to ship to Youth with Faces
I never thought I would ever write that sewing was fun but I am now totally believing that sewing was fun. You made this class matter because you jumped around every minute to help me and others. This class is another thing in this school that I was new to but you made everything really simple. I love art like graffiti writing and wild-style and computer graphics, but you made me love art like fabric and quilt.”
— Kyshawn, Student

Project Topic: 
Trump Administration and its impact on the students 

Project Goal:
To use art and crafts to depict the impact that the current White House administration has on the students, their families, and friends. 

The lesson plan is very similar to above.