By conceptualizing the history of the family deer camp, non-disciplinary artist Jackson Mills Smith presents audiences with a multifaceted body of work in the form of both a publication and installation. The language and imagery of a rural cultural landscape specific to the United States are ever-present in the concepts and ideas at hand. In studying the overarching notion of a collective oral history, while also considering how memory/remembering and storytelling perpetuate myth, a body of work is created in a vocabulary pertinent to the artist’s background. The conceptual pathways presented in Thicket and The Cocklebur Archive serve as glimpses of a world steeped in ritual and tradition, a world where notions of leisure and labor are interchangeable and fluid.
The relationship that language and text maintain with the page in The Cocklebur Archive is also applicable to the objects presented in Thicket. There is no hierarchy of form or media from the gallery space to the page. Language oscillates between sparse, minimal configurations and dense, descriptive masses of prose that lack punctuation or formality but capture the saturated imagery and unique vocabulary embedded in the subject matter. Each facet of the installation is a vessel, a reference point for imagery that redirects the viewer’s attention to environments and instances beyond the gallery. The multimedia nature of the work allows for several audience entry points, whether it be in objects, language, images, or sounds.
By acting simultaneously as an artist, curator, storyteller, and poet, Jackson’s flexibility in making allows him to consistently pursue a variety of mediums and materials that will best serve the concepts at hand. The artist and writer
aims to facilitate a space of open dialogue with audience members, where their stories are shared and brought to life by association.