A Place to Stand tells the story of Jimmy Santiago Baca, a former prisoner at Arizona State Prison. Although Jimmy Santiago Baca arrived at prison functionally illiterate, he taught himself to read and write from a stolen book. Today, Jimmy Baca is an award-winning poet, novelist and screenwriter. “A Place to Stand” documents Baca’s transformation, using various mediums of art to illustrate the empowering nature of finding purpose in expression and affirmation. Jimmy Baca, during a panel discussion at the Talkback Café, emphasized that we are all in some kind of prison, always striving to get out. The panel centered around the notion of art as medicine for trauma, both remedial and preventative.
Immediately following the movie, director Daniel Glick and producer Gabriel Baca held a Q&A at the Boulder Theater while Jimmy Baca sold and signed copies of his book. Every copy of the book sold, thanks to the engaged Boulder community. Afterward, the crew headed over to the Talkback Café, on Pearl Street.
Here they joined Art from Ashes, a local non-profit group that helps troubled young people connect and create. Although this initiative began with kids from 14 to 24, it is now progressing toward working with elementary-aged children as well.
This is an example of work created by a young participant: “The Dance My Father Taught Me” was written by Ricardo, age 12, during an Art from Ashes workshop.
The Dance My Father Taught Me
You were teaching me how
to dance as a dad,
like how not to take certain steps.
But once I took a wrong step
and stepped on your foot
by saying no to you.
You quickly hit me, so my mom left you.
Now my mom is teaching me how
to dance, and I want to tell you,
she is more swift on her feet.
I don’t have to listen all day
just to learn one step.
She shows me where I should step,
and she taught me the steps you could never teach me — how to be
A real man.
She taught me every dance by herself.
She taught me the waltz, the salsa
and the man dance.
There are more poems, and more information about Art from Ashes at the Talkback Café. The group’s primary focus is preventative, cultivating the creative genius of every child and helping them find love and respect for themselves.
For guests who are interested in taking action, Art from Ashes is recruiting volunteers to help children, said Executive Director Catherine O’Neill. Also, having an appreciative audience helps the children to be heard and affirmed, and permitted to express their vulnerability in a positive way.
Daniel Glick encourages people to explore prison pen-pal initiatives. Anything that helps prisoners have a purpose and something to look forward to positively develops their self-worth. These programs allow prisoners to soften and expand in constructive, rehabilitating ways.
Negotiations are already underway to bring A Place to Stand back to Boulder, for viewers who missed the film earlier today. Also, Jimmy Baca’s books are on sale.
Director Daniel Glick is developing ideas to create a film about the divisions, internal and external, that define our contemporary society, and how such divisions are mostly illusory.