Jack Spencer’s photography may appear to focus on the fantastic — impossibly haunting interiors, ethereal lighting and shadows and eerily desperate landscapes. But make no mistake: He is documenting one of the most critically real developments of our time.
A common theme running through Spencer’s exhibition “Short Stories,” on view at David Lusk Gallery through April 27, is the state of our natural world and its struggle against our overwhelming indifference toward its wellbeing.
“As much as he shares a mythical, yet very real, world with us, Spencer reminds us of the peril that apathy or ignorance ensures,” according to gallery information about the show. “‘To save the Earth cannot be left to the worst of us,’ says the artist. ‘It should go without saying that our own backyards are certainly worthy of protection.'”
For the collection, Spencer captured a single, struggling tree in a snowy field, a dark and infinite ocean through the tactile windows of a seemingly-abandoned building and a distant mountain range juxtaposed with a large nautilus shell. In them all, the state of nature in all of its limitless, unknowable power, is rendered dark, spooky, empty. Ghost is the only piece in the collection that features a humanesque figure, albeit sparingly.
In Ghost, Spencer presents a shadowy natural background seen through the empty doorways of a vacuous stone building. Passing through the home is what looks like a spiritual figure in stride, its footprint the only seemingly-recognizable impression. This may be interpreted as a message about humankind’s temporary place among the natural or its smearing effect on the landscape. No matter how a viewer specifically reads the image, it effectively compares a ghostly moment in the foreground with an ominous one out in the natural background.
Spencer was born in Mississippi and currently lives in Nashville. His work has been featured around the world and in The New York Times Book Review, Oxford American and on “Charlie Rose.” More of his work can be found on his website.
The David Lusk Gallery is located at 516 Hagan Street in WeHo.