Orphaned letters salvaged from junky, forsaken storefront signs make up the sentimentally hybrid Word Sculptures works for which the artist Jack Pierson is widely celebrated. The artist recombines the letters into generic phrases whose meanings have become trite from overuse; yet the badly worn letters carry with them deeply emotive and nostalgic histories, transforming the initially simplistic phrases into works that are emblematic of isolation, loneliness, and the past. A similar kind of wordplay with mismatching letters and the unexpected intrigue of the cliché can be found in the artist’s photographs and drawings. Running parallel to those themes is Pierson’s exploration of the glamorous, seedy, and hopeful facets of the lives of old American celebrity, young gay male heartthrobs, and figureless landscapes. The unifying aim is to complicate simplistic or too-easily stereotyped images and ideas, and to inject the works with and undeniable yet ambiguous layers of emotion and meaning. As the artist has stated, “My work demonstrates the disaster inherent in the search for glamour.”
The artist has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and has participated in three Whitney Biennials over the course of his career.