Titus Kaphar (b. 1976) is celebrated for producing paintings, drawings and installations that initiate a contemporary dialogue with history. The Jerome Project is composed of small-scale works that engage with the criminal justice system as a contemporary social issue. With their gold leaf backgrounds and single central figures, The Jerome Project works bring to mind Byzantine holy portraits and Saint Jerome, the patron saint of librarians and scholars, in particular.
The exhibition derives its title from the subjects of the work whom the artist selected for their name, Jerome, and sourced from a website specializing in photographs of people who have recently been arrested. In 2011, Kaphar began searching for his father’s prison record, finding dozens of men who share his given name, Jerome. Influenced by the writings of Michelle Alexander and William Julius Wilson on the prison industrial complex—the use of policing and imprisonment by the United States government as solutions to economic, social and political problems—Kaphar created each panel based on the police portraits he found preserved in the public record online. Though each work depicts an individual, this series represents a community of people, particularly African American men, who are proportionally overrepresented in prisons.
Titus Kaphar: The Jerome Project is organized by Naima J. Keith, Assistant Curator.
Titus Kaphar was born in 1976 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He currently lives and works between New York and Connecticut. Kaphar received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and the distinguished recipient of the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship. His work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY and the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA. His work is included in the collections of the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT, the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.