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The Jerome Project (My Loss)

Titus Kaphar

Contemporary Art

Titus Kaphar’s The Jerome Project (My Loss) belongs to a larger series of the same title that the artist began in 2011. Searching online databases for his father’s prison records, he found dozens of individuals listed who shared his father’s first name, Jerome, as well as his last name. Struck by this discovery, he created portraits of each Jerome, based on their mug shots. The paired panels on view here show Kaphar’s own father. The panels draw on the visual tradition of Byzantine icons, specifically depictions of Saint Jerome, patron saint of librarians, scholars, and translators.

The panels were painted on flat gold-leaf backgrounds and then partially submerged in tar. Initially, the level of the tar reflected the percentage of each lifetime spent in prison. But Kaphar abandoned that formula in acknowledgment of incarceration’s lingering aftereffects, such as difficulty securing employment and loss of voting rights.
MEDIUM Oil, gold leaf, and tar on wood panel
DATES 2014
DIMENSIONS a: 76 1/2 x 59 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (194.3 x 151.1 x 9.5 cm) b: 76 1/2 x 59 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (194.3 x 151.1 x 9.5 cm) a, in travel frame: 214 lb. (97.07kg) b, in travel frame: 234 lb. (106.14kg) a, in display/storage vitrine: 365 lb. (165.56kg)
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE William K. Jacobs, Jr. Fund
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