RENOWNED ARTIST JR REVEALS LATEST INSTALLATION AT CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL FACILITY: A MOVING PORTRAIT SERIES OF CURRENTLY AND FORMERLY INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS
Organized by the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, in partnership with One Community, nearly 50 currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, correctional officers, and survivors of crime participated in JR’s installation at the California Correctional Institution
NATIONWIDE – Yesterday, world renowned artist JR released an image from his latest installation: a large-scale mural of 48 currently and formerly incarcerated individuals that was on display inside the walls of the California Correctional Institution (CCI). The REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, in partnership with One Community, organized the installation—working with JR, CCI Warden W.J. Sullivan, and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) to capture and paste the portraits—located in Tehachapi, California.
The REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign seeks to lift up narratives of hope and redemption, while also breaking down stigmas associated with individuals—disproportionately people of color and the poor—who are impacted by the criminal justice system. The installation is the first of many initiatives the Campaign will coordinate to engage audiences and spark collective action to demand a fair legal system, dignity for system-impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentencing.
“JR’s famed works represent the intersection of art and social justice – a parallel to the work we are doing at One Community and through the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign,” said Scott Budnick, founder and CEO of One Community and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). “We are honored to be partnering with JR to use art to shine a light on the human faces and stories impacted by the criminal justice system. These men and women are not just statistics – they are humans working through deep and profound transformation, passionate to help and heal their communities. From conceptualization to completion, this project underscores how we can work to change hearts and minds and inspire people to look beyond our preconceptions.”
A drone captured the photo released yesterday, following the pasting of 338 strips in October to create the mural, located in the facility’s yard. In addition to currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, JR’s latest project also features the family members of those incarcerated, CCI’s correctional officers, and survivors of crimes. The image, along with interviews with the installation’s participants, can also be experienced on JR: murals, an iPhone and Android application that is available for download.
Participants in the mural shared their testimonies:
- Cory Belcher: “To have such an incredible opportunity to be involved in this has meant so much to me and my family. My family was able to see the change in me and my focus to come home. Not to just come home but make a dramatic change in my life to finally stay home. JR was very influential on how he was determined to take inmates located in a California State Prison and humanize them and to share their stories. This has encouraged me to stay on the right path and eventually give back to those that need my guidance.”
- Edgar Gomez: “Working with JR and alongside other inmates and staff was a wonderful experience. I never thought such a thing could happen. This allowed me to share my story and feel human again! Something I haven’t felt in years. I want to thank JR, REPRESENT JUSTICE, and CDCR Staff for allowing us this opportunity and for letting us share this with the outside world. This has given me hope for a better tomorrow and future.”
- Barrett Fadden: “The experience was inspirational. I experienced things in the week of the project that I hadn’t in over 17 years. Simple things like a handshake and a picture with a civilian. I was treated like a regular person. I have been working hard for the past seven years to recover from a criminal way of thinking and living with the hope to be found suitable for parole. There is no guarantee but a strong hope. This experience was a reinforcement that the changes I am making are worth it. Working with JR has been incredible. His crew was professional and friendly and the project had a lasting impact on the prison population. Two inmates have approached me to sponsor them through the twelve step program. These individuals are making real life changing decisions and committing to change. Working with JR has changed lives for the better.”
“I was honored that the California Correctional Institution was chosen by JR and the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign for this project,”said California Correctional Institution (CCI) Warden W.J. Sullivan. “The final product and the efforts of both the staff and inmates is reflected in the mural itself was amazing and displays the commitment our staff has in facilitating access to and inmate participation in our rehabilitative programs.”
Through art, storytelling, and values-based conversations focused on redemption, mercy, and the possibility of a second chance, the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, in partnership with One Community, will aim to humanize incarcerated individuals in the media and public opinion, in order to bolster decarceration efforts, end extreme sentences, and catalyze criminal justice policy reforms. Major partners of the Campaign include: Color Of Change, Alliance for Safety and Justice, Prison Fellowship, The Justice Collaborative, Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth, Healing Dialogue and Action, and Witness to Innocence.
“As someone who experienced the hopelessness and dehumanization of incarceration, I am proud to have been a part of the creation of this art, this expression of the humanity of the prison’s residents,” said Nathan Pirtle, a REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign surrogate and participant in the pastings at CCI. “Too often, society forgets that incarcerated individuals are also fathers, mothers, children, siblings, colleagues, and peers. This visionary art reminds us that ‘incarcerated’ is just one way to describe the people inside the walls of prisons.”
Follow the conversation: www.representjustice.org or @werepjustice on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. When sharing the Campaign, please consider using the hashtag #RepresentJustice.
About the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign:
Through stories of hope and redemption, REPRESENT JUSTICE will engage audiences and spark collective action that creates public demand for a fair legal system, dignity for system impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentences. The Campaign will work with a coalition of partners, artists, athletes and more to advance reform and build capacity for other organizations in the space.
About One Community:
One Community is a film, television, and new media company that uses the power of commercial storytelling to enable positive global social change. Their mission is to unite and mobilize the entertainment, philanthropic and legislative communities to act in concert. Each of their films have social impact campaigns that expand the message of the film into actionable goals and tangible changes.