When Jesse Krimes was growing up, he probably never realized what a cruel pun his last name would turn out to be. In 2009, he was sentenced to 70 months in prison for possession of cocaine, after a long-drawn legal battle of unfair charges and accusations. While the judge recommended that he be sent to a minimum security prison close to his family in New Jersey, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) chose to send him to a medium security facility far away from home.
According to Jesse, that was just the first of a series of measures taken by a system that is designed to dehumanize. The experience must have been extremely frustrating for him, to say the very least, but he did find a unique way of fighting back – through art. “The system is designed to make you into a criminal and make you conform. I beat the system,” he said with pride.
The extraordinary artist didn’t have fancy art supplies to work with. At his disposal were mundane objects like old New York Times (NYT) newspapers, prison bedsheets and hair gel. But these were more than enough for him to create something so striking that the world just had to stand up and take notice. He created an enormous mural by burnishing high quality visuals from NYT on to the bedsheets, using only a plastic spoon. He used the hair gel as a transfer agent.