Profile: A. B. Jackson (1925-1981)

A. B. Jackson was an American painter.


Life and career

Alexander Brooks Jackson was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of a black father and an English mother who was born in Manchester, England. and earned both BFA and MFA degrees from Yale University, studying with Josef Albers in the mid-1950s. Before entering the teaching field, he worked for three years in the Watson-Manning Advertising Agency in Stratford, Connecticut, as a designer.

He worked briefly as an instructor at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1955, before moving to Norfolk, Virginia, in 1956. In 1967, after teaching 10 years at Norfolk State, he joined Old Dominion University (ODU) as a full professor, becoming its first black faculty member.

During the years he taught, Jackson also exhibited his art in shows in many local and neighboring areas. Having been denied entry to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk Art show in 1962 because of his race, he won best-in-show in 1966. Jackson received significant attention in 1968, after several of his drawings were included in a Smithsonian Institution traveling art exhibition. Influenced by Rembrandt, Jackson worked in a range of materials, including watercolors, pastels, charcoal, and acrylic.  His series of paintings entitled “The Porch People” depicts anonymous sitters on their porches in Ghent, the district of Norfolk, Virginia, where he lived. His book, As I See Ghent: A Visual Essay, was published in 1979.

Jackson died in 1981, at the age of 55.


Jackson is the maternal grandfather of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

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