References to domesticity, ceremonies, loss and personal narratives are just a few of the many elements you might find in Jeff Tackett’s work. Tackett creates his conceptually-based installations that reference environments such as medical labs, wedding ceremonies and bedroom interiors to express a broad range of concerns that include gender, sexuality, language and politics.
Viewing his role as an artist as one “to activate and amplify,” Tackett begins his process with a message, often personal, yet still universal. The message is expressed through the materials he chooses. For Tackett, “it is the choice of materials that separate my voice and hand as part this expression.” From cakes and flowers to beakers and vials, Tackett uses commonplace materials to address the universal human conditions that have shaped his personal narrative.
In Take Root (2015), on view at Shawnee Library, plant life – first in ziplock bags, then in glass vases – line the bottom two rows of the windowsills in two spaces in the Library. Behind them appear printed images (Midwestern imagery such as sunflowers and bison) and text on small pieces of vellum directly adhered to the surface of the glass. The combination of imagery, words and flora in various states create the backdrop of dialog center to Tackett’s installation.
The use of multiples is prevalent in much of Tackett’s work, and is reminiscent of the art practices of Ai Weiwei and Félix González-Torres. The latter addressed the passage of time in many of his installations, and his influence on Tackett’s work can be seen in the current installation. Timing is essential to the work and its four activation phases:
Install of image/text printed on vellum
Install of germinating seeds in plastic bags
Replacement of bags with germinating plants in glass vases
Library visitors are encouraged to take a vase with a growing plant as a gift.
Affected by location, time, climate and general unpredictability, works such as Take Root have varying outcomes and are impossible to predict. Is there sufficient amount of light for seed germination and growth? Will the plants survive long enough for Library visitors to take them home? The durational aspect of the work prohibits the artist in having any sort of certainty of the lifespan of the individual plants, mirroring the unpredictability of our own relationships and life cycles.
For more information on the artist, visit www.jefftackett.com.