Jason Ackman – Rushville, Illinois

Turning Point

“Turning Point”
reclaimed lumber and rope

Briefly describe the work do you do.

I create sculpture and installations from reclaimed materials, specifically lumber and clay. Most of the work I create revolves around realistic interpretations of objects that are ordinary, outdated or utilitarian. These objects are rich with meaning and significance. Many times they have outlived their usefulness or purpose. Their place as forgotten objects allows us to see them re-imagined- we are able to see their metaphorical potential because we are able to distance ourselves from their original intent or purpose. My work explores these alternative or re-imagined meanings as they relate to the concepts of transition and discernment.

At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?

I have always enjoyed creating.  I studied art in college, yet it was not until the last 4 or 5 years that I made the move to take creating much more seriously.  It has been during this time that I feel I have been creating my most personal work.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I live in the same small, rural town I was born and raised in.  I have left a few times, yet not for very long.  I continue to try and leave but for some reason or another I don’t seem to make it very far.  I spent much of my childhood in grocery stores since my father managed several different ones in our town. I am also a Christian.  All of these things have influenced my current body of work.  I find myself processing ideas and concepts that are deeply connected to these three areas.


reclaimed lumber, reclaimed clay, latex house paint and electric light fixtures
28′ x 33′ x 22′

What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?

Everything I create is recognizable to the average person.  The objects I create are also symbolic of a specific idea or concept.  My use of reclaimed materials is also very important to me as well.  There is something about reusing some that is discarded and seen as useless.


reclaimed lumber, latex house paint and beeswax
95″ x 38″ x 24″

We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?

Challenges and new ideas.  I am a problem solver.  I really enjoy the challenge of planning out a piece.  Also knowing when I will have a chunk of time to work.  Currently I am not able to work as an artist full-time.  Studio time is precious to me.

When artists living or non-living influence your work?

Marisol Escobar, Willy Verginer, Gehard Demetz, Kcho, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenburg, Folkert de Jong, Chad Wys, Erik Otto, Ursula von Rydingsvard and David Nash to name a few.

When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in? 

I really enjoy baking, specifically bread.  Spending time with my family, Bike rides. Reading. Starring at the clouds during the day and the stars at night.

IMG_5932About Jason Ackman

Jason Ackman is a high school art teacher and sculptor living in west central Illinois with his wife and two daughters. He received his BA from Western Illinois University and for the past 14 years he has been teaching a wide range of studio art classes at Rushville-Industry High School. His studio practice over the past two years has been focused on the use of reclaimed lumber as a sculptural medium. Recent group exhibitions include 64 Arts National Juried Exhibit, Buchanan Center for the Arts, Monmouth, IL., Art Saint Louis XXVIII: The Exhibition, Art Saint Louis, St.Louis, MO., and Play, Urban Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids, MI.

Jason working

Jason working


All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

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