It all started some time ago when JR received a call from a friend to do a work in a prison. The artist, who has always been fascinated by these places, began to analyze the plants and shapes of the courtyards of Californian prisons, eventually choosing Tehachapi’s maximum-security prison.
At this point the protagonists of the work could only be the prisoners themselves, their families and the prison staff who, in addition to having JR photograph them and helping them in the preparation of the work, opened with the artist by telling their stories, their paths of redemption.
Thus, the creation of a work of art has become something deeper, something more important: it has become the pretext both to analyze the condition of these men, many of whom were imprisoned in adolescence, and to show how the visit of an artist inside a prison becomes an exceptional event that has the strength to change everyone.
On his profile Instagram JR tells:
“I was asked not to approach the guys too closely because they are not comfortable with interactions but when I got in, I couldn’t refrain from looking at them in the eyes, shaking their hands, introducing myself and asking their names. Just because that’s what humans do. They were amazingly grateful for this.”
During the creation of the piece, the same artist realized that something bigger was taking shape, so before unveiling the finished work was created the app JR:murals – downloadable for iOs and Android – where it was possible to give the right space to the stories of the inmates.
With this work, JR asks us a question: “Can a man change?“, and invites us to reflect well before answering, thinking “Did I change? Did I make mistakes, apologize and amend? If I did, why couldn’t they?“