Saturday, November 11, 2017, Diasporal Rhythm Members met at the fashionable home of Gail Spann to view the art of Ariston Jacks, visionary artist and photographer. Mr. Ariston’s creations are a combination of literal and figurative drawings depicting multiple images expressing multiple complex stories in one art work. He has captured the imagination and the senses of the viewer as some works of art transpose into artistic renderings that glow in the dark. The audience of art lovers experimented with viewing the art in the natural light and in the dark. It delivered a stunning realization that there was more than one way of realizing the beauty of Mr. Ariston’s imagery, just as there is more than one way of looking at an idea.
He called some of his drawings “Novellas.” Each told a visual story. For example, in his “Quintessence,” Negroes were defined as being 3/5ths of a man in the United States Constitution. Ariston’s pen and ink translation converted the concept into 5/3rds of a man depicting the super human aspects of the Negro.
Mr. Ariston’s photography was stunning. There were quite a few large images he captured in Namibia which revealed cultural practices. In one photograph, a chief’s wife warmed herself in the sun on a day when the temperature was approximately 44 degrees. As a tribal practice, the denizens of this area rub their bodies and hair with a red clay called HEMBA. When the clay dries on the body, it creates a warming effect.
In another image a large man stands guard in front of a weathered rectangular framed structure. It is a school house. In Namibia, education is a privilege which only the wealthy have access. Wealthy children are sent to school and guards, like the man in the photograph protect the children.
In another chilling image, entitled “African Gothic,” reminiscent of “American Gothic,” by Grant Wood, a couple stands expressionless. The man has had both hands amputated and the woman is missing an arm. The couple are the casualty of war in Sierra Leone instigated by unnamed Europeans in a sinister plot to steal land rich in minerals. The mutilators were Africans paid or encouraged by Europeans. The question they ask of all victims is “Do you want long sleeves or short sleeves.”
Though thoroughly inspired by his creativity, we left with the thought provoking images in our minds and the perplexing questions in our hearts. “How can man behave in such an inhumane manner?”