Lens & Pens to Screen at Georgetown's MOCA DC Gallery

June 5, 2010
Contact: Deborah J. Schull


Lens & Pens: Art in an Unexpected Place
To Screen at Georgetown's MOCA DC Gallery

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 12, 6-9 PM

WASHINGTON, DC--Writer/Producer Deborah J. Schull's new half-hour film Lens & Pens: Art in an Unexpected Place, to play continuously at MOCA DC from June 12 through 26, offers a rare glimpse of life inside the maximum-security fortress known as the John Howard Pavilion of DC's St. Elizabeths Hospital. Deemed 'not guilty by reason of insanity' by the criminal courts, long-time residents Ronnie Crooks, Pamela Thomas, and Kevin McCain ultimately "luck out" when in 1989 then-social worker and chief of the hospital's Dual Diagnosis Treatment Branch, Ed Washington, conceives the Lens & Pens, Brushes & Friends program. His goal: to create an arts program that will bridge the divide between this often-ostracized treatment population and the outside world.

Framed by Ed's recollections of the thriving poetry, photography, and painting workshop's evolution; laced with interviews of Ronnie, Pam, and Kevin and their devoted volunteer-teachers; and with footage of the participants' highly skilled artwork, the documentary gives every indication that Ed's hopes will be realized. With public exhibits, performances, and even sales of their art, and with substantial leaps in artistic skill and self-confidence, Ronnie, Pam, and Kevin grow beyond anything they could have imagined--and must now balance a newfound freedom with an uncertain future.

The Telly Award honors the "very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions and work created for the Web." Lens & Pens also garnered the Mental Health America Media Award, the Aegis Award, and the Aurora Award-Platinum Best of Show.

Offered along with the film will be a showing of paintings, photography, and poetry by the artists of the John Howard Pavilion, as well as an exhibit of prisoners' art courtesy of the Safe Streets Arts Foundation that runs from June 4 through 26. The June 12 reception, for both the Lens & Pens and the Safe Streets programs, will offer wine and light fare. Artists are expected to attend.

An attorney and instructional designer as well as a writer and producer, Deborah J. Schull has often incorporated the arts into her  work. She produced episodes on language with William Safire and on the comic writings of S.J. Perelman for the award-winning PBS television series Think Tank; served as public relations director for Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts and the Metropolitan Opera Guild Education Department; and won First Prize from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) for an essay on rap music, digital sampling, copyright, and the first amendment. She has earned numerous industry awards for her work in film, video, multimedia, as well as print. A board member of the Television, Internet, and Video Association of DC (TIVA), Deborah freelances in Washington, DC, and New York City writing interactive training and marketing materials for video, multimedia, and print. She is developing a music-based travel series for television and a documentary on the impact of music on brain-injured veterans.


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