Karibu Arts center opening in Lock Haven

JOHN RISHEL/THE EXPRESS Some of Kincaid’s artwork is on display at the building, showcasing courage and sorrow.

LOCK HAVEN — A new non-profit agency, Karibu Arts, has moved into town, calling 306 N. Grove St. in Lock Haven its home.

Karibu Arts is a non-profit agency whose mission is to restore dignity and self-respect, through arts, to women that have been released from the prison system or correctional facilities.

“I am not affiliated with probation, I am not going to remand them to come here, but I am looking to work with women coming out of corrections,” said Deborah Kincaid, registered art therapist and founder of Karibu. “I do have official visitor status with the Pennsylvania Prison Society. I do volunteer work in prisons. I met with warden Angela Hoover, and they have approved an art program at the Clinton County Correctional Facility, starting Feb. 4 of this year.”

“The thinking is that women exiting the system will know me and they will know that they are welcome here.”

Karibu means welcome.

JOHN RISHEL/THE EXPRESS Originally from the New Jersey area, Deborah Kincaid is the founder of Karibu Arts.

Their vision is to grow women’s wisdom and wellness so they can return to their communities as mentors and guides to others.

“Through the arts, one might query? Art is known throughout all cultures and across all time as a healing agent,” Kincaid said≥

Their workshops are offered to women and their children at no charge. All are welcome.

“We want to restore welcome, that self-belief, that sense of matter. A lot of programs in prisons are geared towards men. Vocational rehabilitation…men can learn trades, electrical, plumbing… research shows that these programs are geared predominantly towards men. They offer women cosmotology and maybe cooking. I have found that the most under-served population in the prison system are women age 18 to 25 in terms of what is offered to prevent recidivating, repeat offenses,” Kincaid said.

“Women are under-served in our area and have different needs. Many women I’ve worked with and met lament the fact that they are in jail and have very little to do with the upbringing of their children, which is part of the reason Karibu is offering workshops to not only women, but also their children, and again, all of this is free of charge,” she said.

Karibu Arts was born from Kincaid’s own personal experience of emotional trauma and the healing power of art. Her art, on display at Karibu, speaks not only of emotional struggle, but of the immense gratification that comes from working through adversity.

“These women are downtrodden, beaten down in every sense of the word. Even when they get out of prison, they stay in the system. They have to serve probation, attend meetings. Who brings them joy? That’s my question. Who brings them pleasure and enjoyment? In order to recover they have to begin to deal with the underlying emotions that drive self-destructive behavior to get to the heart of it. That is what it was for me,” said Kincaid.

Workshops planned include painting, sacred dance, drumming and storytelling.

Art Therapy Workshop

“What would happen if you gave honor to the effort you are putting into re-entry, and embark on a journey into the landscape of your inner soul,” Kincaid asks. “Amidst the complexities of transition, there is an enormously powerful creative force within you. As images emerge they become a visual narrative or your unique life story. What deeper story is emerging in you? In a supportive environment, participants are encouraged to approach painting with curiosity and an open mind.”

This workshop is offered free to women transitioning from corrections, with all materials are supplied. They will use a combination of techniques, no prior art instruction or skill is required.

“The only prerequisite is wonder,” Kincaid said.

Sacred Dance Workshop

“Unfortunately, many of us have diverted our emotions into unhealthy relationships – with self or others, or both. Feeling stuck, our bodies are over-burdened with negative energy. The question becomes, how do we discharge this energy in such a way that it is neither violent nor destructive to self or others,” Kincaid asks.

“As you dance, you open your heart to the Divine presence of unconditional acceptance. Dance – the opposite of soul deadening – becomes the vehicle as your body comes alive with life and passion,” she explains

This workshop is offered free of charge to women leaving corrections and in re-entry.

Storytelling Workshop

“Many women leaving corrections have the experience of disconnection from their children. The feeling of belonging – to self and others – has been lost through an excessively long sentence. Special attention is given to re-weaving connection through storytelling. Done in a supportive circle, it is a place where mothers can nurture themselves and reconnect with their children,” she said.

Free of charge, this workshop is open to mothers and their children. Registration required.

Art and Drum Workshop

“How does a mother create a space of trust and belonging for her child? How do our children learn to express their unique gifts?” she said. “Art and Drum provides a supportive playground for a child’s vitality and imagination as they customize their bongo with glitter stickers and acrylic paints. Interchange of painting and drumming invites the child to explore.”

This workshop is offered free of charge to women in transition and their children ages 6-10. Registration is required.

They are hosting an Open House for the professional community on Friday, Feb. 1, from 2-6 p.m. at 306 N. Grove St., Lock Haven.

Light afternoon fare, including coffee, tea and scones, will be available.

For the public, an Open House is planned for Saturday, Feb. 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and light refreshments will be served.

Hours for Karibu Arts are as follows, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, from noon to 7 p.m.

For additional information, contact Deborah Kincaid at 570-748-8888.