The pieces being installed in “L.O.S.T. Gate” range in size from compact works rich in detail to the titular piece, a woodcut that stands as tall as a grown man.
Baltimore-based artist Ariston Jacks — who has a master’s in Painting & Printmaking from the University of Arkansas and has had work exhibited widely throughout the American South and East Coast — said one of the themes that runs through them all is family.
“Imagery reflecting the significance of family is not as prevalent in American popular culture as I think it should be. Your family makes and molds you as a person, weather it is your biological family or the family you adopt through circumstance” he wrote in an email.
“In the Black community, the family has always been of great importance. Yet, I rarely see images of diverse American families in art, although I feel that’s starting to shift. I’m happy to witness and be apart of this change” he wrote.
“L.O.S.T. Gate: The Art of Ariston Jacks" is the first show of the semester at Carroll Community College’s Scott Center Gallery after the gallery’s break for the summer. It features all pieces by Jacks, who works in multiple mediums from painting to woodblock printing.
The opening reception will be held Thursday, Sept. 26 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. The show will be in the gallery for public viewing through Nov. 2. Admission to the gallery is free and the gallery is open almost any time the college is, said Jessi Hardesty, curator of collections and exhibitions.
Like many aspects of the show, the title “L.O.S.T. Gate” has layered meanings. L.O.S.T is an acronym that Jacks has created to mean “Lineage of Supreme Triumph.”
“It’s an excellent portrayal of the Black experience in America. Our experience can be viewed as negative and full of limitations... But, if you really pay attention and analyze the truth anthropologically and historically, our success and legacy in this country can be seen as nothing but extremely positive considering the circumstances," he wrote.
“I like the work to offer multiple interpretations... primarily because we all have different experiences and backgrounds that may relate in some way. There is enough visual data that can connect multiple cultures and perspectives. For instance “the woodcut L.O.S.T. Gate, which also inspired the title of the show, could be perceived as a lost gate to my lineage, but another person may look at the imagery and identify it as something that has been found.”
The artist’s statement he crafted for the for the exhibit reads: “Guided by the spirit realm, research, and the oral tradition of my Father, I construct a modern mythology centered in truth and impending prophecy."
Each of the pieces tells a narrative. But those narratives don’t always suggest themselves in neatly tied bows to the viewer.
The statement continues, “'The L.O.S.T. Gate (Legacy of Supreme Triumph)' series documents my ancestral heritage through veiled images that are filled with secret messages and sacred geometry presented through a contemporary lens. These mythical narratives of family, archetype, and icon illuminate the spirit of man by chronicling discerning perspectives which illustrate the human condition outside of the edited scope of mainstream culture.”
Jacks wrote, “I could dissect each piece, but that would be no fun. I enjoy people viewing the work, and coming up with their own interpretations; making their own narrative conclusions.”
For students at Carroll Community College, gallery shows throughout the semester are woven through their curriculum.
“They have a lot of opportunities, not just to interact with the artists, but also just to to interact repeatedly with the artists’ work," Hardesty said. “I do try to make connections to their course material a bit with each show, but I don’t curate the shows around how they will interact with the class."