Die Jim Crow: Art from U.$ Prisons

Friday, June 3, 2016–Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sheen Center Gallery

Die Jim Crow: Art from U.$. Prisons features artwork from incarcerated artists all over the country of different backgrounds. The title of the exhibition refers to the music project “Die Jim Crow”, a concept album about racism in the United States prison system written and performed by formerly and currently incarcerated black songwriters and singers from across the country. Curator Fury Young finds inspiration for the exhibition from one of our nation’s greatest issues: the United States has the largest prison and criminal justice system in the world, which Young believes targets black communities nationwide; beginning with the mass incarceration “Jim Crow” boom in the 1980s which saw an unprecedented jail population increase of over 400%. After leaving prison, the “felon” label leaves people stripped of basic rights such as housing, employment, voting, and education producing further injustices. Fury found that for folks in prison, making art is a means of healing and staying productive in a traumatic environment. Each prison has different regulations around art materials, as evidenced in the work on view. Whether given a handkerchief, a canvas, or 8.5” x 11” paper, artists in prison find a way to be as creative as possible within their limited means as a means of escape.

 

ABOUT THE CURATOR

Fury Young is an activist and multidisciplinary artist who is producing the concept music album “Die Jim Crow”. He was born and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Though he has never been incarcerated, Fury grew up around folks who had been to prison, some of whom were close friends. It was after reading the book “The New Jim Crow” that Young got the idea to make a concept album about racism in the United States prison system. It is written and performed by formerly and currently incarcerated black songwriters and singers from across the country. Incarcerated artists whom Young met through the “Die Jim Crow” project began to send him their artwork as means to fundraise for the project. As of this exhibition at The Sheen Center, Fury Young has curated five shows around the New York area featuring prison art from across the country.