Artist Jason Wallace’s work explores person-to-person and person-to-material relationships as well as the behaviors of consumption and accumulation within contemporary consciousness. His latest exhibit, “FREE within ourselves,” comes to Upper West Side pop-up gallery North of History this month, with 16 works featuring various mediums: acrylic paintings with recycled materials, mixed-media, printmaking and an installation. The Chicago native attended the Art Institute of Chicago, Howard University and Brooks Institute of Photography, and achieved his Master’s degree from Tufts University in conjunction with the School Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Esteemed collectors have acquired Wallace’s work both domestically and internationally, and he has exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The name for the exhibition ’FREE within ourselves’ is an excerpt from the book “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” by Langston Hughes, in which the poet examines a quote from another well-known Negro poet: “I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet.” Emphasizing the importance of seeing value in oneself, without fear or shame, the passage goes on to steer the notion for acceptance, allowing for respectful disagreement and challenging the premise of how and from whom we receive freedom because we are “FREE within ourselves.”
Common themes within the work of Jason Wallace are structural constructs and societal systems that delve into perception, value and identity. He says, “I believe the viewer will take away a sense that the artist is engaged in questioning one’s own perception in relationship to others using signs and symbols rooted in mathematics. The signs and symbols series uses mathematical signs as a way to describe human geometry by examining systemic structures of values.” For example, Wallace’s “Life and Luxury” series relates to the water crisis of Flint, Michigan, bringing to light that healthy water is a need for life yet has become a luxury item for consumption; also, water is a luxury item for the wealthy with their access to pools, ponds, rivers and lakes.