When Yellowknife-based artist Marcus Jackson wanted to start a conversation about hunting, he began by creating sculptures and printmaking.
Three years later, his solo exhibition Animal Matter is showing for the first time at Fort Simpson’s Open Sky Gallery, the only artist-run gallery in the NWT.
“The one message I want to get across is for people to know that the root word of animal is anima, meaning spirit,” Jackson, 38, told The Journal. “I want people to remember that for every goose-down jacket and coyote-lined hood they own, it used to be a single being with a family.”
Animal Matter features 16 prints, many depicting hunting scenes with white, stencil-like etchings of animals against dark, blurred backgrounds. The exhibit also showcases three of Jackson’s art books and a handful of large sculptures.
“I am interested in exploring hunting culture and, in particular, how the hunter relates to the hunted; the predator to the prey,” he said.
He incorporates raw materials in his art, such as sinew and fur.
“I try and combine natural materials and man-made materials because that is what the clash is all about,” he said. “The clash is either about us using animals, manufacturing them and turning them into a commodity, or about our development impacting their landscape…Look at mining reclamation problems or how many caribou have starved to death along the Canol Trail after becoming trapped in wires, in our garbage.”
Jackson’s favourite pieces include the sculptures Heart of a Boy – a nest suspended between antlers – and The Figure, a shape wrapped in gauze and then clad in buffalo, positioned in a crucifix.
Lynne Canney, director of Open Sky, said Animal Matter is the type of exhibit that “really draws people in.”
A steady number of four to five visitors stroll through the exhibit every day, she said.
“The content is very relevant to a small Northern community where a lot of hunting is still practiced,” Canney said. “I know the artist expects some people to dislike the content, but the feedback so far has been really positive and people want to talk about it after they see it.”
Especially the sculpture titled The Eastern Coyote, Canney noted.
“It’s a mechanical coyote made with steel, fur, leather and it moves,” she said.
Jackson, who said he’s been an artist for as long as he can remember, hopes to bring the exhibit to Yellowknife once he secures gallery space.
He also currently has a piece on display in the group exhibit Boxed In! at The Rooms Provincial Gallery in St John’s, Newfoundland.
Jackson is working on a new set of prints and will exhibit a series of winter photographs this November at the Gallery on 47th in Yellowknife.
Animal Matter opened Jan. 11 and is on display in Fort Simpson until Feb. 22.2 comments