Rig Art – The Spice Trade

In a broad sense, this work by Jason Stout is about a contradiction of time, history, spirituality, identity, and culture. In this scene, a redneck character, (representing an outlaw southern US culture) is attempting to trade spices – in this case, illegal drugs – to a Native American who is guarded by animal spirit creatures.

The redneck’s magic wand represents fake magic, a ruse, whereas the Native American is guarded by his spirituality and mysticism in the form of spirit animals. There is an attempted transaction happening, but for what purpose is unclear.

The background in the painting is a mix of natural and invaded landscape; it’s a commentary on civilizations acquiring land for the sake of commerce and distorting its original identity from the values of the previous owners. Oil derricks are now as common as trees and other natural elements, foreshadowing a future that is about to arrive. A small underworld passage exists, a purgatory pit of sorts, which is a comment on the cycle of death, decay, and burying of fossils needed to create fossil fuels. This alludes to a grander narrative commenting on the cycle of life.


Jason Stout was born in 1977. He received his BFA in studio art from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2001 and a MFA in Painting from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2004. Stout’s work visually deals with elements of formal and figurative abstraction, while exploring such themes as power, history, and identity, especially through the guise of southern culture. His work exists in several private and public collections, including the University of West Georgia, Jacksonville State University, and the University of Tennessee at Martin.

During his career he has participated in several solo exhibitions and has been a part of several group exhibitions as well. Stout has won several scholarships and individual awards for his work. He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Tennessee at Martin and is represented by REM gallery in San Antonio, TX and Circuitous Succession Gallery in Memphis, TN.

Stout was recently named TAEA Higher Education Art Educator of the Year for 2015-16 and Best of Show (featured artist) for the Art of the South 2016 exhibition.

You can find more information on Jason and his work here:

– www.remgallery.com

– www.circuitoussuccession.com

– thejasonstout.com