Jesse Krimes Shows Work Secretly Created Inside Prison Walls

by Andy SmithPosted on

Philadelphia-based artist Jesse Krimes spent six years in prison, and in that time, he secretly produced a prolific amount of original art. That body of work includes a 39-panel mural made out of bed sheets stitched together, titled “Apokaluptein:16389067.” As explained in an artist statement: “The title references the Greek origin of the word apocalypse meaning to ‘uncover, reveal;’ an event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale; the numbers reference Krimes’ Federal Bureau of Prisons identification number.”

Krimes smuggled the work out over three years, shipping it piece by piece. His printing process included using hair gel and a spoon to move images from the New York Times and other publications onto the sheets. He would then draw onto the makeshift prints to unify the piece and construct new narratives.

Krimes was sentenced to prison for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in 2009. A year before that, he had graduated with a degree in studio art from Millersville University. While serving time, fellow prisoners commissioned art from Krimes; he even began to teach classes. Since getting out, he’s shown his work across the world. His current show, “Marking Time in America: The Prison W​o​rks (2009–2013),” runs through Sept. 24 at Burning in Water in New York City. Work includes prison-issued soap, on which the artist would transfer newspaper images to create portraits.

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