Jared Owens

Jared Owens is a visual artist who creates abstract work that navigates the politics of art-making within the carceral archipelago.

Owens’ work is a vibrant kaleidoscope of evocative forms and configurations that encapsulates the tenuous existence of the creative when confined to a liminal physical space. The vastness of his bold color palette, combined with his distinct use of shading via boxed or broad strokes, suggests that his work is a commentary on the complex experience of being only partly seen and known by society. In the center of many of his pieces, we find abstract replicants of the amorphous self–what might be interpreted as the spirit of a man still under construction but still deserving of attention and celebration.

Owen’s work was included in the exhibition Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, at MoMA PS1 in 2020 and “Rendering Justice,” at the African American Museum of Philadelphia in 2020. His work was also featured at Malin Gallery, Martos Gallery, Rutgers University, and HBO’s “OG Experience,” in Chelsea, NY. He has completed site-specific installations at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site and a public art project with the Philadelphia Mural Arts program. He is a 2019 Right of Return Fellow, a 2022 Art for Justice Fellow, and 2022 Sliver Arts Residency. His work is in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum.

Right of Return Project

The Parchman Project

A New York native, Owens’ Right of Return Project was a suite of paintings depicting the conditions of Parchman prison. It was later in an exhibition curated by Jesse Krimes titled “Rendering Justice” at the African American Museum of art in Philadelphia in 2022.

On the problem addressed in his work:

“My art is a result of my prison experience, being confined in a 54- acre space for over a decade. Federal prison made me aware of the power of art within a confined system and all of the challenges and difficulties one is presented within the pursuit of freedom of expression. Through my art, I wish to confront the viewer with the reality that they too have a hand in the creation, and therefore destruction, of carceral constructs and all its sub-systems. I want the viewer to be aware of this power, and wish to present art that challenges the current state of ‘cognitive dissonance’ that society as a whole suffers from until we reach a place where caging humans is no longer seen as the first solution.”