July 12–October 13, 2013

Jack Spencer: Beyond the Surface

  • Jack Spencer. Niñas, Día de los Muertos, 2000. Archival pigment print, 24 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Jack Spencer

  • Jack Spencer. Light Vessel, 2012. Archival pigment print, 31 x 41 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Jack Spencer

  • Jack Spencer. Yellowstone River, 2005. Archival pigment print, 44 x 63 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Jack Spencer

  • Jack Spencer. Gussie’s Magnolia, 1995. Gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Jack Spencer

For more than twenty years, Nashville, Tennessee, photographer Jack Spencer (b. 1951) has created a world of shadow and light, theme and variation, beauty and intrigue. His use of rich, subtle tones, evocative lighting, and otherworldly colors takes us beyond photography as a subjective mirror or window, in which meaning derives from the interplay between the artist’s viewpoint and the tangible surface of the subject. In his approach to photography, Spencer emphasizes invention over documentation. The medium’s ambiguous relationship between fact and fiction is well suited for the exploration of his own unconscious terrain.

Many photographers seek to unveil their subjects, to suggest truth behind the visual fact. Spencer’s approach is to veil the observed surface of reality with beauty, mystery, and a keen awareness of photography’s capacity to confound our sense of time. With no single truth to be revealed, a photographer can conjure compelling fictions in which meaning is cryptic and interpretation is open. Spencer says, “If time is a vast illusion as quantum physics purports, then everything is ephemeral and nothing here is eternal and all is probability.”

This exhibition is organized by the Frist Art Museum and curated by Frist Art Museum Chief Curator Mark Scala.

A catalogue published by Vanderbilt University Press accompanies the exhibition.

Presenting Sponsor:
The Atticus Trust in memory of Betty Brown

Location: Upper-Level Galleries


Supported in part by


Supported in part by

NEA Artworks

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