Art and Social Interaction


A Guide for College Internships Serving Correction, Rehabilitation and Human Service Needs.

Bringing the freedom of expressive art into conditions of confinement while learning firsthand about the issues of our time

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An award-winning artist and educator shows how undergraduate college students bring the freedom of expressive art into conditions of confinement and in so doing learn about the major issues of our lives.

An internship opportunity for college undergraduates to learn firsthand about crime; mental illness; drug, spousal and child abuse; and concerns of the frail elderly by sharing personalized art activities with those affected.

A concise and detailed manual demonstrating how college art or social work departments and community volunteers can fully prepare and present successful creative fine art programs in jails, psychiatric facilities, drug rehab centers, nursing homes, domestic abuse shelters, and facilities for youth in need.

Dr. Judith Peck, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College of New Jersey, conceived the program on which this book is based, fifty years ago. Still ongoing, undergraduate students may enroll from any area of the college. In class they create art projects that are particularly accessible to the non-artist and learn how to present them in a join-in atmosphere at non-mainstream sites where the freedom of the art experience is needed and welcome. Such places include jails, facilities for youth in need, centers for drug and child and spousal abuse, urban housing projects, veterans centers, nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals. Sharing the combined magic of art and interested social conversation together with the release found in personal expression, students help those whose freedoms are limited in various ways.  Equally important, by coming one-on-one with those affected, students  come to understand some of society’s major problems.


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“Dr. Peck’s book on the  healing of disenfranchised and marginalized populations via shared expressive art activities with college students is a breath of fresh air.  An artist and an educational icon, she leads the next generation of students to appreciate the value and imperative nature of this endeavor.
-Katheleen Monahan, DSW, LCSW, LMFT, Associate Professor, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University 

“What makes Peck’s book different is the authenticity of her broad experience, and its relevance to professors, students and institutional administrators. The kind of work encouraged and fostered here draws on an altruism that is fading. This work facilitates social change and builds sorely needed connection between institutions and communities.”
-Andy Teirstein, PhD, Arts professor, NYU Tisch School of the Arts 

“In Art and Social Interaction, Professor Peck provides a detailed blueprint for experiential learning in art and social justice. Through internships making art collaboratively with a range of individuals experiencing the challenges of poverty, trauma and oppression, often in institutional settings, students practice compassion, humility and creativity. Art and Social Interaction is truly a book for this moment, when those with educational privilege are called to use their skills to advance social justice. Professor Peck demonstrates the way visual art levels the playing field and facilitates critical insight into identity and society. Art & Social Interaction is a must read for university administrators and faculty as we work to educate the next generation of compassionate and skilled leaders.”
-Francine Sherman, Clinical Professor Emerita, Boston College Law School; President of I Am Why, 

“Judith Peck’s new book, Art and Social Interaction, offers a compelling rationale and a useful guide to teachers, counselors, institutional administrators, and others in human services to get at the innermost feelings and concerns of those in their care — particularly those most vulnerable and often reticent to speak out — by employing various forms of non-verbal expression through drawing, painting and sculpture and the non-threatening social engagement with dedicated college students.”
-Peter I. Rose, Sophia Smith Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Anthropology, Smith College


Dr. Judith Peck is Professor Emeritus of Art, Ramapo College of New Jersey. She is author of several books on art techniques and creativity in learning for teachers and parents. Her sculptures are included in 80 public and private collections internationally. Pictures and information about her work can be viewed at and titles of other books at

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