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Jason Tréas collaborating with The Beat Within and Pacific News Service (fiscal sponsor)

Award: $30,276 Traditional Arts Grant awarded in 2003

Completed: September 2004

Visual artist Jason Tréas collaborated with The Beat Within, a project of Pacific News Service (PNS), and with at-risk youth to create three murals–one at each of three Boys and Girls Clubs San Francisco.  A former prisoner, Tréas designed the project murals with input from youth from the Mission, Bernal, and Excelsior districts.  The works depicts challenges faced by teenagers living with poverty and violence, and incorporates themes of personal transformation from the lead artist’s life. Tréas was assisted by Christine Wong and Josué Rojas of YO! Youth Outlook magazine.

The Beat Within offers weekly writing workshops in juvenile halls and publishes works by incarcerated youth.  Over six years, Jason Tréas, then an inmate, first discovered art while locked up in San Francisco Juvenile Hall and began to take his art seriously when he saw one of his pieces published in The Beat Within. He art continued to develop as he was transferred to San Quentin and New Folsom State Prisons and, finally, to the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. There Tréas combated 23.5 hours per day of isolation by emulating the examples of Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros, creating art that reflected his heritage, and his social perspectives as a prison artist.

The Beat Within, a project of Pacific News Service, was founded in 1996 and has developed into a weekly publication of writing and art from juvenile hall and beyond. At the time this grant was awarded, The Beat Within was conducting 50 writing and conversation workshops per week in seven juvenile hall facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area.