JR Puts Art on Rikers Island

May 6, 2013 | Andy Cush

Fresh off of plastering the faces of New Yorkers and tourists alike all over Times Square, JR took to a location that’s decidedly more in keeping with his best-known work. The French street artist traveled to Rikers Island over the weekend to put his trademark large-scale wheatpasted photo posters on the prison’s walls.

We’ve already established that JR’s art tends to work better areas without much competing advertising, as opposed to, say, the High Line, and this latest bit of work is in keeping with that. The Times Square piece, which allows you to have your photo taken and printed on the spot in a custom-outfitted truck, has a nice interactivity, but there’s a rawness to this work that images of a thousand giddy faces can’t compete with.

“We just pasted the eye of another inmate on the 2 South Building of the Rikers Island Jail in New York City,” JR wrote on Instagram, where the above photos were posted. “He wanted me to choose his eye looking left as life in jail is all about watching your back… He came out in the jail yard when we were pasting. He’s 18 years old, it’s his second time in Jail. Even if no one will recognize his eye he knows he’s part of a bigger picture.”