• Katherine Stanek

The Transformational Art of Jack Elliott

Our Summer Invitational is now open and the gallery is filled with spectacular works executed in a variety of media. Among these are three of sculptor Jack Elliott's spectacular wood carvings. Elliott, who is also an academic, has three areas of expertise in teaching which are: visual, industrial and ecological literacy in design. He is a professor at Cornell University and views design as a “strategy for action” as he attempts to apply his expertise as a means of positive change.

In Argenteum for example, we are confronted with a massive piece of silver maple—an indigenous American species known for rapid growth and urban tolerance. But with extreme weather events associated with global warming, these trees are increasingly becoming damaged due to the brittle nature of their wood.

The solidity of the wood plays with the almost fragile nature of Argenteum, furthering the powerful commentary behind this work and the intersection of art and environment.

The word “samothracae” means “of the Greek island Samothrace,” which is most famously known for the discovery of Nike, the ancient sculpture of the “Winged Victory of Samothrace.” While the original Nike is a hybridized, reconstructed whole, Elliot’s Samothracae, which is also on view, is transfigurational. One element emerges from the other through rupture. This piece asks us to consider the notion of creation through the process of decay—the scars that disfigure the wood add to its beauty and intrigue. Its poetic origins are further explored through the use of weeping willow.

Lastly, we have Elliot’s Dianic, which gets its name from the roman goddess Diana. The piece is created from three elm trees, symbolizing triality of Diana, who was goddess of the hunt, the moon, and the nether world. The centers of each of the three elms form an isosceles triangle, associated with the cult of Diana, and the elm wood draws on its associations with the underworld.

Dianic is a powerful piece—its natural simplicity, clever engineering, and inner meaning draw on Elliot’s many talents, and the strength of form and medium truly commands the eye of the beholder.

Come in to view these works for yourself before our Summer Invitational ends on August 12th.

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