Jacks by Kenneth Speiser


Three 8.6 feet by 8.6 feet by 8.6 feet pieces, Kenneth Speiser’s Jacks was a sizable first installation for the sculpture collection at Slater Park. Located a short sprint from the park’s playground, the sculptures owe their inspiration to the children’s game, jacks, which informed their form and location within the park.

As the first public work of art to be commissioned for the park in its 200-year plus existence, these playful sculptures help viewers reframe the park itself as they peer through negative spaces created by the overlapping limbs of the three pieces. In working to call attention to the world around the sculpture and not what is simply immediate to it, the piece helps us achieve a childlike wonder as our perspective shifts through myriad frames of viewing. In articles published upon the sculpture’s installation, Speiser expressed the hope that viewers will take note of the cast shadows of the different “jacks” as they fall on limbs of one another and keep our perception of the sculpture in constant motion.The intricacy of such a concept comes of no surprise considering Speiser’s general process. In interview, he has said frankly, “most of my work starts with a specific material… I look for the material first, then try to think of a creative way to use it in ways that reveal its many possibilities, beyond its intended functions.” In Jacks, however, form replaces material. Still, Speiser uses form in the same way as he uses material: to reveal possibilities outside any immediate and intended functions.

Holding a BFA in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied in the 60’s, Speiser claims as early influences such art giants as Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Dieter Roth, and Andy Warhol for their willingness to use mundane objects to create extraordinary artworks existing as something greater than the sum of their parts.

Speiser has seen his share of personal successes, with work in the collections of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, DeCordova Museum, Newport Art Museum, Hamilton College Art Museum, Fidelity Investments, the University of Rhode Island School of Oceanography, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Prudential Insurance, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital, the City of Miami, FL, the City of Providence, RI, the City of Cambridge, MA, and of course the City of Pawtucket, RI.

Active in the Rhode Island arts community, Speiser worked as head of the RISD screen-printing department for three years and is a member of the Art League of Rhode Island Exhibition committee, the Art Selection Committee for Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island, and Public Art Works, a collaboration of artists, non-profits, and similar organizations working to bring art to the Rhode Island public.

Todd Stong





Home About Current Projects City Collection Private Collection Calls about current projects city collections private collection memorials calls