“Review of Etienne Jackson’s Sketches at Hammonds House Museum”
Etienne Jackson is an Atlanta-based sculptor who, in his youth, under the recommendation of his mentor, produced a series of 15”x11” sculpture-like Prismacolor-on-vellum drawings associated with a single daily thought he had, wondering at his existence and experience as well as that of others around him. Some days the answers seem clear and almost simple, shown in titled pieces that depict a much more literal subject. Some days there are no answers, but just thoughts and particular feelings. This is expressed in his piece “Mitosis.”
“Mitosis” depicts an organic, symmetrical shape pinched in the middle to give the appearance of two cells splitting apart, barely joined by a thinning strip of tissue. The predominantly horizontal curves suggest movement apart, as if being stretched. The varying forms inside each cell are also very organic shapes that appear as compartments of the cells. The piece has an engineer’s precision with the lighting in each little compartment and the special attention given to the approximate symmetry. Another very literal depiction is the piece “Ladder.”
“Ladder” is a another organic mass, depicting what seems like bands of what appears as muscle connected to one another by various diagonal rungs, all in different directions. This sketch is done in the same precise and organic style as Mitosis, but with less focus on symmetry and more focus on direction. The accompanying poem reads “Ladder/ Mode of ascension/ Mode of Decension/ Upward-downward/ One’s data is/ Determined by his/ Actions in life.” This also suggests a lot of movement as we see in the piece with the rungs going in different directions and the two sides curving outward at their ends. The answers seem clear, and Jackson is making a declarative statement about life. However, we see that he does not always see life so clearly in some of his untitled pieces.
This piece portrays an archlike structure in which the top is warped and stretched out to the side. Jackson maintains an organic look in this piece with the curved lines and varying flow of directions, but this form contains more jagged and sharp edges. There is no literal depiction, but a seemingly random shape filled with dentures and curves that flows in random directions. The piece gives off a sense of confusion or puzzlement, which embodies Jackson’s wondering about the future in the accompanying text. The odd curves show Jackson’s curiosity about where his path will take him.
As a whole, the pieces show Etienne Jackson as an intelligent and capable artist as well as a sort of modern-day philosopher – someone who continuously experiences moments of clarity in which the answers to the mysteries of life seem clear, but also a man who is continuously seeking answers to questions of his own.
Uduak Wilson is a sophmore at the Atlanta International School.