Working across sculpture, video, sound, and performance, Aryel René Jackson (born 1991, Louisiana) explores landscape as a site of personal representation. In this newly commissioned work, Jackson presents a sculptural installation that recalls the landscapes of Texas and Louisiana, two places that hold profound meaning for the artist. Jackson was raised in New Orleans and is now based in Austin.
Motivated in part by the artist’s desire “to see myself represented in the landscape,” Jackson’s installation, What it means: iterations of a welcoming place, hovers between painting and sculpture, and abstraction and representation, in an imagined topography that merges figural imagery with geography, and weaves personal narratives with public histories. The collaged images, painted and carved into the panels, are drawn from Jackson’s familial archives, an important resource in the artist's research-based practice. Jackson uses this personal material to explore how their own family history has intersected with stories of persistence, endurance, and resistance by Black, Indigenous, and Creole communities in the American South. For Jackson, landscapes are like a palimpsest, something reused or altered by time and history but still bearing visible traces of their earlier form.
This installation is accompanied by a new soundscape of field recordings made in East Austin, mixed with simulated sounds of nature, and intercut with poetry written and narrated by the artist. As the audio unfolds, visitors are invited to relax, imagine, and consider themselves in relation to the imagery in Jackson’s installation.
Over the next several months, this installation will also serve as a production studio for Jackson to create a new video work, functioning as both a public exhibition and a platform for the development of a new work.
HOST: Aryel René Jackson is curated by Julie Le, Assistant Curator.
Aryel (Ar-y/ee-el) René Jackson (they/them) (born 1991, Louisiana) is a Texas-based artist whose practice consists of what they call “Visual Essays,” lyrical film works which utilize soil, performance, mimicry, and installation sculpture to reflect on critical race theory and archeological studies. Jackson considers how visual, tangible, and experiential material data impacts perception when speculating on the past. Influenced by their Afro-Creole Louisiana heritage and their experience as a Black American growing up in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Jackson's work focuses on ancestral wisdom and the memory that land holds in transmitting knowledge in preparation for the future.
Jackson currently works in Austin, Texas, and teaches foundation courses at Texas State University in San Marcos. They are an alum of The University of Texas at Austin (2019), the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2019), the Royal College of Art Exchange Program (2018), and The Cooper Union (2013). Their films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2022); the Baltimore Museum of Art (2021); and The Momentary in collaboration with the Crystal Bridges Museum (2020). Jackson’s work has been exhibited at galleries and institutions such as Artpace, San Antonio (2022); Women & Their Work, Austin (2022); IDEA Lab, Art Gallery at Black Studies at The University of Texas at Austin (2021); Dallas Contemporary (2021); Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Seattle (2021); SculptureCenter, New York (2019); New Museum, New York (2019); Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans (2018); and the Studio Museum in Harlem (2016). In 2021, Jackson was awarded the Tito’s Art Prize.
HOST is an exhibition space and program series that amplifies The Contemporary Austin’s commitment to centering artists and welcoming publics. With each exhibition cycle, an artist will create a newly commissioned environment in the HOST gallery space at The Jones Center. Programming will accompany each work. Throughout the run of each exhibition, artists will invite visitors into their worlds.
The public is invited to a free celebration on the opening night of two extraordinary exhibitions at the Jones Center.
We invite you to engage with nature in a series this season, Touching Grass at Laguna Gloria. Take a closer look at the flora of the grounds through a plant walk and activity.
Join us at Laguna Gloria for an evening screening and Q+A with exhibiting artist Aryel René Jackson.
What does environmental justice mean? Joining us in conversation are Carmen Llanes, Executive Director at Go Austin Vamos Austin; Nefertitti Jackmon, Community Displacement Prevention Officer at the Housing and Planning Department with the City of Austin; Lauren Ross, Principal Engineer of Glenrose Engineering; and facilitator Jennifer Sanders, KXAN Anchor and reporter.