A truly dedicated artist cannot be stopped from creating, even behind bars.
The Parrish Art Museum is exploring this idea with a screening of director Alysa Nahmias’s award-winning 2022 documentary Art & Krimes by Krimes this Friday, October 21 at 6 p.m.
The film chronicles the story of artist Jesse Krimes who secretly created monumental works of art during years of incarceration in federal prison.
The screening will be followed by a talk via Zoom with Namias and artists Krimes, Russell Craig, Jared Owens, and Gilberto Rivera.
It will be moderated in-person by Corinne Erni, Parrish Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of ArtsReach and Special Projects.
The Story of “Art & Krimes by Krimes”
Jesse Krimes was arrested on cocaine possession charges in 2009, after graduating with an art degree from Millersville University in his native Pennsylvania. The artist was sentenced to six years in federal prison, but while in solitary confinement, he realized he could transfer photographs from newspapers and magazines onto tiny soap squares using hair gel and a plastic spoon.
He created these soap tile portraits and hid them in cutout compartments within decks of cards. But his major project was Apokaluptein: 16389067 — a 40-foot mural made with prison bed sheets, hair gel, and newspaper (see top of post). Krimes systematically smuggled out each panel, piece-by-piece, with the help of fellow artists.
In an interview, he described the work as “a contemporary version of Dante’s Heaven, Earth, and Hell where politicians, celebrities, and offenders serve as archangels, angels, and demons.”
Krimes saw the complete Apokaluptein for the first time upon his release. In 2021 it was part of a MoMA PS1 exhibition, which featured work by other formerly imprisoned artists including Russell Craig, Jared Owens, and Gilberto Rivera — who will take part in Friday’s Zoom conversation after the screening.
With Craig, Krimes co-founded the Right of Return Fellowship for formerly incarcerated artists.
He has collaborated and received public commissions with a focus on prison reform from organizations including Amnesty International, Ford Foundation, Open Philanthropy, and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts’ Restorative Justice program, among others.
Krimes was awarded fellowships by Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in 2017, the Independence Foundation in the same year, and the Ford Foundation’s Art for Justice initiative in 2018.
Art & Krimes by Krimes features animation by acclaimed animator Molly Schwartz in collaboration with Krimes, and an original score is by Amanda Jones in collaboration with formerly incarcerated musicians who are alumni of Musicambia.
This year, the film won the Audience Award at the Filmocracy Fest and the Best Documentary Feature award at the Riverrun International Film Festival. It was an official selection of the Heartland International, Philadelphia, Denver, NYC DOC, and other film festivals.
Art & Krimes by Krimes will be shown in the Parrish Art Museum’s Lichtenstein Theater — tickets are $5 for members, and students; $16 for adult non-members.
Limited tickets will be available at the door, but advance ticket purchase with pre-event registration is recommended for this film.
The Parrish requires requires proof of full vaccination to attend this screening. Mask-wearing is not required but recommended when not eating or drinking.
Visit parrishart.org for tickets and more info.
Learn more about Art & Krimes by Krimes and the artist’s activism at krimesfilm.com.