Jack Spencer (American)
Born 1951, Kosiusko, MS
Lives and works in Nashville, TN
Describing his photographs as "metaphors that represent something primal in all of us", Jack Spencer is a master storyteller whose subjects and objects are composed as the main characters. He also says that photographically he works in an expressionistic way not in a traditional documentary tradition.
Spencer accomplishes each softly tactile print through selective hand-coloring and unique technical processes devised by him. An out-of-focus quality in his images comes from selective control of the camera’s focus. Spencer also projects his negatives in the enlarger through various transparent materials, thus distorting light on its way to the photographic paper. Prints are often coated with up to three coats of oil varnish medium and even distressed with coats of asphaltum that is applied then removed. Some prints are slightly torn and dented. The process creates a patina thatsuggests age.
Native Soil is a series of photographs that captures lives of people rich with stories, It is a meditation on race, poverty, kinship, joy, and love - accomplished through back- land travels across the country. The poignant subject matter is the artist’s way of karmically reversing the prejudicial culture in which he was raised in the South.
In The Land, Spencer powerfully manipulates typical photographic images of decaying buildings, lost highways and monumental big-sky landscape features spread out across the American West and Midwest. Particularly, some of the landscapes are hand-colored in a way that suggests the color and light employed by painters of the 19th century Hudson River School.
Apariciones is a series of photographs from Spencer’s travels in Mexico. In these works one feels his sense of awe for the spiritual power of the country’s people. From simple portraits to chronicles of culturally unique rituals, initiations and sacred festivals, these moving photographs record an emotional range from the delicately romantic to the rugged and the intensely reverent. The prints in this series glow from a selenium toning bath that adds a coppery sepia hue.
In his series of Florals Spencer photographs flowers up-close, lending the emotional response one feels in confrontation with monumental icons, Coloration of the prints contributes to their otherworldliness.
Jack Spencer has photographs in many collections, including The Houston Museum of Fine Art, TX, Berkley Museum of Art, CA, and even Sir Elton John’s Photography Collection, reported to be one of the largest photography collections in the world.