Artist Titus Kaphar, whose show “The Jerome Project,” just opened at the Studio Museum in Harlem, has we believe been commissioned by Time Magazine to create a work for its cover.
An executive at Time apparently saw the show and loved it. “We are immensely honored for Titus that he is being considered for such a prestigious commission,” Jack Shainman, Kaphar’s New York gallerist, told artnet News though he said the details of the Time cover have not yet been finalized.
The African American artist is known for his paintings, drawings, and installation that incorporate elements of 18th and 19th century portraiture with gestures more at home in a contemporary practice like turning a painted canvas into a sculptural form. For his show at the Studio Museum, Kaphar is showing small-scale works that grapple with contemporary issues, in particular issues related to the criminal justice system. The Time cover seems to coincide with events in Ferguson, where a decision of the grand jury weighing whether or not to bring charges against the white police officer who shot and killed the unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri is expected by the end of the month.
Kaphar’s works at the Studio Museum show are based on police portraits of recently-arrested men named Jerome, the first name of Kaphar’s father, which he chanced upon in 2011 when searching for his father’s prison records. Influenced by writings about the prison system and the use of imprisonment to address social, economic, and political problems, the portraits are meant to represent not only the individuals but, as per the Studio Museum’s website, a “community of people, particularly African American men, who are overrepresented in the prison population.” After completing the portraits, Kaphar dipped them in tar at least up to their mouths to reflect the silencing of these men by the prison system.
We’ve been told the cover is scheduled to run in roughly two weeks. We reached out to Time for confirmation but have not heard back for comment.
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