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I DO Know Jack!

Kenneth Hershenson's avatar Kenneth Hershenson

The jack. A small, shiny metal object. A toy to stack, to spin, to quickly snatch up before the red rubber ball bounces a second time. A large part of our childhood, no matter what the culture, no matter when the millennium. The Greek philosopher Plato credited the Egyptians with the invention of the game. Study Pieter Brueghel’s 1560 painting Children's Games and you will find children huddling close together playing jacks. Whether made of stone, wood, bone, or metal, jacks have been small in size but enormous in the fabric of children’s lives for thousands of years. The geometric design of the modern metal jack with its sleek and reflective surfaces called to my imagination and memories. They represent the polarity of the simplicity of childhood and the complexity of adulthood. Jacks called to the fun and joy of so many years ago, to the boy who lives inside me. I have chosen to nurture that boy who never left. I started developing this idea 30 years ago, through sketches and then computer modeling while I was busy working and raising a family. In 2012, I dusted off my decades-old notes and sketches to connect my past self with my current self and FINALLY materialize my imagination on canvas. Each of the paintings in my “I DO Know Jack!” series are completed the old fashioned way - brush and paint on canvas. I let my imagination create a static image in my mind’s eye using a selected play on words and then lay out a number of studies until the 2D representation aligns with the image in my mind. I then simply get lost in the painting process. Often, when people view these, they stop, smile and say, “I used to play jacks!” This recognition is one of the reasons I choose to create stark and simple images that exemplify what a child might see...the complex distilled down to basic truths. I have plans for 20 in the series.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 1-1/2 inches
  • Medium: Acrylic
  • Width: Approx. 16 feet
  • Year created: 2015
  • Height: 48 inches