Titus Kaphar: Selections from Asphalt and Chalk
June 10–September 10, 2015
The Jerome Project (Asphalt and Chalk) V, XV, and XVI represent a compelling new phase of Kaphar’s Jerome Project, which investigates racial injustice through the vagaries of the justice and penal systems in contemporary American society. In 2011, Kaphar began researching his father Jerome’s prison record, and came across mugshots of nearly one hundred men who shared his father’s name. He began researching these 99 other Jeromes, interviewing them and investigating their personal histories.
Using their mugshots, Kaphar created layered portraits of multiple Jeromes. Taken together, these works serve both as individual portraits and as composite images in which individual identity becomes blurred, confused, and ultimately illegible. The drawings also serve as community portraits of African-American men, who are overrepresented in the country’s prison population. Kaphar’s project has assumed a new urgency as conflicts over the treatment of black communities by police have galvanized a national conversation. Executed in chalk on asphalt paper, the drawings allude to the chalk outlines of bodies at crime scenes on streets and sidewalks— recalling the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Walter Scott, as well as those who do not make the news.