Figure 8 by IS Jackson (exhibition runs from June 4 to 7)

If I had one word to describe my pursuit in art it is authenticity.

My work addresses topics such as gender, language, history, and religion and are explored through themes like truth, normality, and shame. From concepts like ordinary values of decency to beliefs about morality, I attempt to push viewers to question their beliefs. It’s important to me is to eliminate the shame that disobeying society’s values brings. I believe that standards around belonging to a certain category, (i.e. woman, Asian or disabled) only limit our potential. We have customs that go against our nature and I believe unjustly dismissing nature has brought us to lose a lot of senses in the process. For example, to be “impulsive” is negative even though that is what’s natural. Where did this disconnection from nature come from? Humans have created many rules that if disobeyed can result in feelings of guilt and shame. We have moved so far away from nature that we now live in a sheltered and a controlled world that my work challenges. This manmade world opposes nature. I want to find an authenticity within ourselves so that we can honestly communicate. My work’s ultimate goal is to reestablish a relationship with nature.

Morals and normality are what define our desires and behaviors because many of us are afraid to defy the norms. Not being socially acceptable often results in feelings of shame and guilt. I am convinced that we are all afraid of this somehow. This is why, in my art, I confront shame and embrace the inner desires of each individual.  By extracting the truth within each individual, I believe this shame can be eliminated.  (I think you could eliminate this past paragraph)
My research on gender resulted in my own self-doubt about the values and roles expected of me. I have come to realize that there is much I need to discover in order to understand what is really true and natural.

We are also all constrained and defined by our connection to institutions such as religion.  Religion is responsible for enforcing standards that continue to dictate our world today since it presents demands that induce fear in individuals. We have lost our natural sense of “goodness” after being programmed with fixed ideas of right and wrong. This “goodness” is not authentically “good” because it doesn’t come from within, it has been taught. This is the theme that my art speaks to. My art asks for honesty. Each piece is an exploration of truth within the individual and an attempt at reviving that authenticity, which every other animal seams to naturally possess, within human kind. I am determined to stimulate truth in others by asking viewers to follow their body rather than their mind. I also ask my subjects, my audience and myself to welcome vulnerability so that our nature resurfaces and let’s us communicate. Our understanding of others and ourselves, just like morality, is limited to the predetermined language given to us.

Language is another part of my art exploration. Our thoughts and beliefs are often confined by the words that we know and this is how language contributes to is inauthenticity. Human societies have been built around the idea that without a word, something is imperceptible, therefore does not exist to us. One of my favorite quotes is Shakespeare’s “that which a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The actual spirit of something does not change but our perception of it is predetermined. Words come with definitions that limit and fix roles to each individual. For example, many societies, expect men to be aggressive, tough and competitive and if they do not behave this way they can be seen as vulnerable and may feel shame.

How are we to know the truth and communicate if our only means to do so has been formatted for us? Ideas, feelings, and senses that have no names become intangible things that then get lost in translation and this is what I try to represent with each piece. Scent, sound and movement are perfect representations of this idea. They embody the idea of “essence” since they hold no physical presence. My interest in “essences” comes from the belief that they represent the truth that I’m trying to find: the truth that has no name or stagnant physical existence. Movement, sound and smell are in flux, with no way for a human to compartmentalize it. This is why I use video, scent, sound and performance art to symbolize this truth. I am not satisfied with the way language has been built and believe that things like movement, sound and smell could be the better means for communication. Without a confined word and definition, I feel closer to authenticity. This is what I am searching for through all mediums of art.