NEW YORK — Just six years ago, Jesse Krimes was behind bars where he was serving out a five-year sentence for possession and intent to distribute cocaine.
While incarcerated, Krimes kept busy with the one thing he found therapeutic: making art.
That art essentially became contraband when it was smuggled out of federal prison with the help of a correctional officer. It now resurfaced as part of pop-up exhibition The O.G. Experience.
“It brings back just the sheer intensity of being in that space and it brings back all these memories of the things that I had to deal with,” Krimes told PIX11 News about his art.
Among his work includes a piece that took took three years to create. It's made up of 39 prison bedsheets and thousands of images from the New York Times.
Krimes, a co-curator for the exhibit, partners up with other formerly incarcerated artists to tell their stories of perseverance through art where they take control of their own narrative in the unique gallery show at Studio 525 in Chelsea.
The show is accompanied by the upcoming HBO film “O.G.,” which delves into the societal impact of incarceration.
With 2.3 million people currently locked up, the United States has the largest incarceration rate in the world. It’s a stat Krimes hopes is not lost on visitors.
“It’s of the magnitude that this is an absolutely moral crisis in this country,” he said. “And it’s just only now beginning to get chipped away at.”
Philadelphia-based artist Russell Craig spent seven years behind bars. His art, he says, captures the struggles of those in the system and it’s his hope they could play a role in much-needed change.
“I don’t feel sad, I feel proud of everybody and what we’re trying to do know what I’m saying,” Craig said.
If you’re interested in taking on the O.G. Experience, the pop-up exhibition opens Wednesday. For more information, visit their website.