JR Created a Series of Photo-Murals at New York’s Rikers Island Jail


The French, Brooklyn-based street artist JR visited Rikers Island recently, not because his prolific pasting of photo murals got him in trouble with the NYPD, but to create a series of site-specific pieces using photographs of the infamous maximum security prison’s inmates. “I wish no one jail time,” JR wrote on Instagram. “Spending time there talking with the inmates, they make you realize price of freedom. The young kids I met were all in search of inspiration, anything that can break the routine of their day. I asked them what en eye on their wall would change ? The one who helped us pasting it says he never had the chance to see or experience the power of art. And by pasting these few strips of paper on the wall he just felt part of something and that was enough for him.”


The murals, of which JR and his team installed at least two in the prison — one in a hallway and the other outdoors — show the intense gazes of inmates at the prison in extreme closeup. “We just pasted the eye of another inmate on the 2 South Building of the Rikers Island jail in New York City,” JR wrote. “He wanted me to choose his eye looking left as life in jail is all about watching your back… He came out in the jail yard when we were pasting. He’s 18 years old, it’s his second time in jail.”


— Benjamin Sutton

(Photos courtesy JR/Instagram.)