You never change things by fighting the existing reality…To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – R. Buckminster Fuller
Brush With the Law began in 2013 as a simple art class held at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. By the end of 2016 BWTL had received its Determination Letter declaring it a 501c3 nonprofit organization. 2016 was also the year BWTL expanded its scope of vision and started working on creative city beautification projects to benefit the public and communities throughout the metropolitan Philadelphia region.
The reason for expansion stemmed from participants being discharged back to society wanting to continue being a part of the program, as well as serve their assigned community service hours.
The safe connections and camaraderie found in the art classes were new experiences for a lot of the individuals.
Ultimately, Brush With the Law serves the metropolitan Philadelphia area as a critical social support system for socially marginalized individuals to help beautify community, serve court ordered community service hours and learn the therapeutic nature of working in a creative environment. Brush With the Law utilizes the act of creating with all people to help make an impact on lives positively.
BWTL has been consistently active and involved in many other projects and art related exhibits that have served various places and spaces in the community.
One of the biggest honors was gaining acceptance for the 5535-2017 sculpture in the Art of the State exhibit held at the PA State Museum in Harrisburg. The sculpture titled 5535-2017 won First Place in Sculpture category as well as received the Purchase Prize Award meaning that the museum bought the piece and is now part of their permanent collection.
5535-2017 is a sculpture/chandelier of 5,535 clear glassine baggies stuffed with a one-inch crystal bead to represent each person who lost their life to heroin/opiate addiction in Pennsylvania alone in 2017. Each of the 5535 crystal filled baggies were then strung onto varying lengths of monofilament (fishing line) that hung from the ceiling of the museum. Participants involved were: people with community service hours and assigned to BWTL thru the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office, family and friends of those who suffer from opiate/heroin addiction, and people in recovery.
- Have fewer feelings of isolation, fear, guilt, and loneliness
- Meet others facing similar situations
- Understand that addiction is a disease and its impact on the family
- Avoid the judicial system and help deter recidivism
- Build confidence and coping skills
- Make better choices in life
- Find an outlet for creativity for one to explore and blossom
- Community members come to understand the challenges some populations face
Through our creative projects and services, we have been able to help constituents reconnect and build sustainable and meaningful ties within the community.