Profile: Tomashi Jackson (1980-)

Tomashi Jackson is an American multimedia artist working across painting, video, textiles and sculpture. Jackson was born in Houston, Texas, raised in Los Angeles, and currently lives and works in New York, NY and Cambridge, MA. Jackson was named a 2019 Whitney Biennial participating artist. Jackson also serves on the faculty for sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design. Her work is included in the collection of MOCA Los Angeles. In 2004, a 20-foot-high by 80-foot-long mural by Jackson entitled Evolution of a Community was unveiled in the Los Angeles neighborhood of West Adams.

Artistic practice

Jackson’s work investigates the relationships between the aesthetic and the political. Jackson references layered content bridging historical actions with shifting artistic structures.

Her multimedia practice draws from Josef Albers’ research on color relativity, “resulting in works with exuberant color, bold geometry, and intricate layerings of material.” Jackson first became interested in Albers’ work while studying painting and printmaking at Yale University. At the time she noted that the language Albers used to describe color perception phenomenon mirrored the language around racial segregation found in education policy and the transcripts of civil rights court cases fought by Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. This analysis led Jackson to use color theory as an aesthetic strategy to investigate and connect past and present. “Color theory and human rights are conceptually interwoven in my paintings,” said the artist. “I find the language comparisons appropriate metaphors for a critique of racism rather than a critique of categories of race.”

Incorporating images painted from photographs and other materials chosen for their formal qualities, Jackson’s work “bridges gaps between geometric experimentation and the systematization of injustice.”

Jackson is interested in movement and migration, in particular how these activities are curtailed for populations of color. Her project at the 2019 Whitney Biennial compared people of color losing their homes in the 19th century, when Seneca Village was razed to become part of Central Park, with homeowners in Brooklyn recently losing their homes under a controversial policy known as third-party transfer.

Education

Jackson received her BFA from Cooper Union in 2010, MS from the MIT School of Architecture and Planning in 2012, and MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art in 2016.

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