"Life After Death," which opened at the House of Art Gallery on Friday, is named after the late rapper's second album, and features his lyrics juxtaposed with images by painters and photographers.
The exhibit was inspired by curator Dawud Knuckles' book "Art Album," which examines the intersection of fine art and hip-hop through essays and interviews.
Clinton Hill rapper Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B.I.G., was shot to death on March 9, 1997 in Los Angeles. As the anniversary of "Biggie's" death approached, Knuckles saw it as an opportunity to honor the rapper's legacy.
"He's an important part of this culture— the way he talked, the way he lived," Knuckles said. "Biggie is, if not the greatest, one of the greatest."
Next to each piece is a quote chosen by Knuckles that best fits the theme of the painting, he said.
"I've always seen hip-hop as an art form," Knuckles said. "I wanted to juxtapose it with something high-end, which is fine art."
This isn't the first time the gallery has focused on hip-hop culture as high art. Last April, gallery owner Richard Beavers curated "The BoomBox Exhibition," an exhibit focused on classic 1970s and 1980s boomboxes.
Relating the two is important, Beavers said, because it introduces hip-hop connoisseurs to the arts, while introducing fine art fans to hip-hop.
"A lot of people wouldn't automatically relate the two or connect the two," Beavers said. "It challenges the norm. It goes against the grain."