Santa Fe-based artist Jacks McNamara develops their ancestral imagination in this immersive solo display. The exhibition uses painting and installation to explore the seasonal relationships and pre-Christian spiritual practices common to European ancestors whose descendants have migrated into the Indigenous territories and high desert landscapes of New Mexico.
Read statements from the artist and our gallery director below, and explore the new Ancestral Imagination exhibition guide.
Jacks McNamara's paintings resemble bisected seeds-if hypocotyls were deep purple and radicles bright blue-and their kinship with this natural structure doesn't end there. Seeds carry a lot of information (sometimes for years, if they don't meet a drop of water) about where they came from and what they could be.
People seem less reliable in this regard, with our dependence on easily severed records to connect our pasts with our futures. But, in fact, there are voluminous archives stored at the mysterious intersection of the body and mind, in the interplay between sensory experiences of nature and vivid dreams and visions.
It's root work.
-Jordan Eddy, Gallery Director
The works in Ancestral Imagination evolve a visual language for the poetics of growth. While they may appear abstract from a distance, upon closer investigation the pieces are full of reference to worlds both invisible and visible - the wonder of creation itself, but also ice crystals, raindrops, cellular structures, the leaves and roots of specific plants, and the architecture of stones and words.
These strange paintings are my prayers and spells; they are my synesthetic responses to music and light; and they are improvisations based on the knots and rings of the raw wood underneath them. They form a visual residue of my explorations into the pre-Christian spirituality of my European ancestors, reaching towards the collective consciousness of a time when “white people” were indigenous to specific places and revered rather than destroyed the land. This investigation is a form of resistance against the harmful spiritual appropriation so common to white folks who seek meaning and practices from distant and “exotic” cultures rather than digging into their own lineages.
Creating these pieces is a practice in returning to relationships both grounded and cosmic, particular and vast, rooted in the seasons and landscapes of my adopted New Mexican home. As a solo practitioner who does not have a coven or local community of fellow pagan seekers, these paintings are the sites where I cast a sacred circle and call in the elements and deities to perform whatever transformation needs to happen. I find that viewers feel the magic at work here and get pulled into the spiritual matrix even if they can’t explain what’s happening. I don’t always know where these paintings come from - it feels like they move through me and in some ways manifest themselves. Creating them is an act of devotion and discovery, of rooting myself in something ancient and entirely new.