By Swatek, Johnny
Art Business News , Vol. 28, No. 13
Bison Enterprises & Studio, in Springfield, S.D., is a World to Work project offered by Springfield Academy, which teaches juvenile offenders ages 13 to 18 skills they can use once out of the facility. We try to offer trades that can be found in any size town, large or small. Currently, Bison Studio offers three projects--basic woodworking, textile printing and matting and framing.
We try to give the boys all the skills necessary to run and work in galleries or to mat and frame for themselves as an alternative to flipping hamburgers and selling drugs. The training takes place in a real gallery setting where instructors take customers through the presentation process as the boys listen in. At this point, the boys are learning how to deal with customers as well as how to avoid potential problems. Although they do not have much input at this phase, we occasionally ask them for their opinions.
After the presentation is set, they help with the work orders and ordering. Then they do all aspects of the frame job, from conservation preparations to matting to final assembly.
The boys light up when customers come for their finished pieces. If there are problems (and occasionally there are) the boys take care of them. They know what things cost, how to get the most out of their materials and equipment, and they've learned good time management skills.
Bison Enterprises started over five years ago in the basement of our academy with our second project, textile printing. …