SPOTLIGHT: Jack and REACT


So some time last month, I decided to enhance my life with some culture. I decided that it was time out for watching everything from the MacBook I’d so recently purchased, and that it was time to step into the world. Basically that entailed just walking across campus to the opening of the Senior Art Show entitled “Wherefore.” I listened to three artists’ talks and studied the exhibitions. Two collections stuck out to me particularly, and because of that I made plans to sit down with one Jessica “Jack” Wyrick to discuss her work.

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Jessica, known more as Jack around our campus, grew up not too far from Sewanee, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She was born in a log cabin, built by her father, with no electricity or running water. Contrast that with a life here on campus, at a school where bowties are the accessories of choice for my male counterparts, and you can partially gather the dichotomy from which Jack has been created. This dichotomy, among many others, is what she showed in her portion of “Wherefore”


An exhibition that studied mortality, decay, and the passage of time among other things, Jack’s work piqued my interest. October 2, which was a piece composed of the skull of a deer, and a handmade purposely aged journal to me was a posh-like chic piece. It was a piece that I immediately wanted for my possession. Jack cited a journal that her father had made for her when she was younger as inspiration. The journal caught on fire while her house was aflame, and then got wet when there was an attempt to put out the fire. In the exhibit the journal contained elementary scribbles, an attempt for Jack to recapture those little moments of her pass and immortalize them.

Another favorite of mine from this particular exhibit was a picture of Jack on rail road tracks in a belted cardigan. Any loyal reader will know that I have a fascination with military inspired fashions. It seems that Jack also has a fascination with the military and the cleanliness and structure found within, attending military school in addition to helping at the Citadel, a military academy in my home state of South Carolina. This undoubtedly had an influence on her knack for repetition and cleanliness as she herself states. After studying the panoramic, which were made with sizes based on Jack’s own height, one can immediately sense that something in awry. The pieces are composed of pictures that Jack took that were then digitally sewn together. The picture that appears to be of a corn field is actually one picture taken multiple times, once with Jack in the row, and then that was sewn onto the others. So in a sense viewers are seeing a landscape where Jack is and is not present at the same time.

After discussing that work I began to ask Jack about the REACT Collective, a non-profit arts collective based in Chattanooga. We spoke of it’s founding by Rachel Combs, Kate Winters, and herself all Sewanee Class of ’10 art majors, and the reason for it. She explained her discontent with the state of the arts scene in Chattanooga, a scene filled with rich, privileged “society girl” types that take pictures of the bridge at the sunset, “print them on expensive paper, and put them in an expensive frame” before selling them for a couple hundred dollars. She explained how one of the final straws came when she saw a class on basic figure drawing being advertised for $120 with no supplies provided. REACT(Restoring Essential Artistic Community Today) came as her reaction to this, and after discussing the idea with friends they began to plan.

REACT will combat this problem by offering affordable classes of all types of art forms for the masses. In a type of democratization type scheme that we see here in the fashion industry, REACT will provide the means for those who aren’t normally given the chance to experience this industry, a chance. Among other things the collective plans on putting together gallery showings as well as bringing in music artist to play. Also because of the various arts programs that have been cut in schools, the collective also will partner with various schools in an attempt to provide the students with arts education, and exposure. There is even talk of doing free DVD’s for students so they can learn the basics of making various types of art.

All in all, Jessica “Jack” Wyrick is a phenomenal artist and someone who’s reaching to do more. With this REACT collective she has set herself in a place to possibly make history in Chattanooga, if not Tennessee. And if it doesn’t make it that far then she’ll definitely make a difference in one little girl’s life that she believes in that attends a charter school in Chattanooga who created an inspiring piece called “What I have to say about MLK and Obama.” Jack has a knack for creating pieces that combine a chic and very posh element with a clean orderly one. Each of her pieces in someway not only contains her emotions but contains a bit of her in it whether it be her journal or her size. In a way, with this exhibit she has stopped her decay, she has frozen her mortality while studying it.

See one of Jack’s portfolio’s here or visit her blog here