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dual exhibition

Opening Reception: Friday, November 3rd from 5pm - 9pm

Arch Enemy Arts is pleased to present Hold Sacred Part I: Deluge & Tempest, the first of a two-part exhibition showcasing a themed body of work by Darla Jackson and Paul Romano. Visually transcribing the rough storms of the human experience, the couple highlights their collective strength through their individual practices, characteristically presented in sculpture and painting. Here they have crafted a collection that lays their hearts bare as individuals, as a family unit, and as artists finding creative meaning within the throes of emotional chaos.


The pair initially set out to redefine what they had each regarded as having a sense of divinity, that which they as creatives revere– whether in art history, in collective mythos, or within the undisputed bond that they share with each other. Says Romano, 


“[We were] thinking about the ideas of the sacred, both in the grand sense of what has come out of the human imagination, but also in what we personally keep for ourselves as sacred.” 


Through existential circumstances, the show’s concept was molded as current issues put things into perspective, challenging what sacred comforts the two previously held. Just as the world was seemingly easing back into the day-to-day, one thing after another seemed to befall them through multiple extenuating factors affecting family and friends. 


“Suddenly it was all hitting close to home. People that we loved.”  

“This is really just about the confusion of it all… the confusion, and the sadness, and the anger.”


Their productive mettle and emotional dexterities challenged, their contemplations of this sacred theme appear before us now. Darla gives us a cousin to the Catholic “Way of Sorrows'' with her allegorical depictions of the stages of grief. Armor, Ember, Offering, and Not ready yet… display a return to familiar practices as a safe place, presenting her emotional portraiture as acquainted expressions anew with raw and recent tumult. Armor conveys denial with protective thorns functioning as a dissociative wall between the tender animal and the harsh pangs of reality. Ember threatens to rekindle in near-passed rage, while Offering bargains for a way to reason with heartache. In Jackson’s own words: “They are stand-ins, specters… the ghosts of our feelings.” Departing from these we find the link between her and Paul’s bodies of work– the ship as allegory for grief itself. 


Darla’s Wrecked is a portrait of the sculptor transfigured, run aground, replete with gossamer sails and surrounded by ribbons of tears. This idol of sadness echoes the profound sentiment shared within Paul’s arresting work, Deluge, itself a reconciliation of pain and material. Having maximized a new technique in rendering and with heart open wide, Paul has given us an image that is identifiable in both feeling and content. Its monochromatism allows subtle temperature variations to lift and obscure the subject within its surroundings, pushing and pulling our view amidst the rocking waves. The work is as animated as it is solemn, beautiful as it is gripping– a touching monument to the loss of his mother. Moving onto the others in this series, we are confronted by figures placed within tortured landscapes or emerging from expanses of color. Crisis Apparition and Husk present active and passive destruction, while Ecdysis conveys a hope for renewal after breaching the extremes of experience. Lastly, “- - - . . . - - -” (the title representing S.O.S. in Morse code) pays homage to the martyred figure, one whose pain blossoms into lasting effect beyond the immediate moments of sorrow.


“[We are] speaking from similar places, but saying different things,”  says Jackson, describing the “emotional trust-fall” that allows their voices as individuals to shine through a studied lexicon of sacred imagery. By allowing life experience to generate the personal symbolism that is integrated with their work, this newly tempered self trust becomes a heart to heart with the show’s viewers. 


As we brave the Deluge & Tempest together, Romano offers this simple contemplation:


“What’s left after the storm?”


Darla Jackson is a sculptor and educator teaching Foundry and Moldmaking at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, as well as various workshops throughout America. She received a BFA in Sculpture from Moore College of Art in 2003 and in the years since, her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the country. Paul Romano is a multidisciplinary artist and designer, having developed myriad cover-to-cover album artwork for bands internationally– most notably for the Grammy Award-winning act, Mastodon. Romano studied at the University of the Arts and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. The pair resides in Philadelphia, PA. 

written by Alex Medlin II


DELUGE & TEMPEST will be on display from November 3rd - 26th, 2023. 

Sold works can be made available for pick up starting Sunday, November 26th.

Shipped works will packed and sent starting the week of December 11th unless other rush arrangements have been made.


All pieces are eligible to be purchased using a payment plan.


Items marked with a red dot are sold.

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