The Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, Virginia was once the site of a prison. Opened during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, it was a rather visionary project at the time, a facility to house and rehabilitate inmates guilty of such low-level offenses as public drunkenness and trying to vote while female.

After the prison closed in 2001 it was reborn as a studio/ workshop/ gallery/ theatre for various kinds of artists the following year. Now you can take art classes there and drop in at various times to watch painters, sculptures, potters, glass blowers, metalworkers and other kinds of professional artists ply their trade. You can also view their finished creations on display, and even buy them and take them home.

Additionally, there are classes and performances in culinary arts, theatre and dance, as well as classes in disciplines like yoga, pilates, zumba, nia, and even something called a cacao ceremony – which we gather, is some kind of meditation session in which you drink chocolate, or something like that.

It’s also worth taking a stroll around the grounds to see the ruins of the former prison, and visit the little museum that tells about its history. This former correctional facility has now corrected itself.

Michael Kroetch
Michael Kroetch and his work “The Lost World”

Special thanks to Michael Kroetch for sharing stories of art adventures with us. And to all of the artists currently in residence at the Workhouse Art Center.