Suzanne Jackson works experimentally across mediums, including drawing, painting, printmaking, bookmaking, poetry, dance, theater and costume design. In her lyrical work from the 1960s and 70s, figures and recurring symbols are built through multiple layers of acrylic wash on canvas, making for ethereal paintings in which any firm distinction between depicted elements is dissolved. Similarly built up through layers of pure acrylic, Jackson’s recent anti-canvases are partially structured with prosaic netting, rods, paper fragments, peanut shells, bamboo bells and leather string. The artist’s handmade gestures—pinching, crimping and pleating—occur within a material transparency that lends each composition a uniquely luminous dimensionality.
After Jackson studied painting and theater at San Francisco State University, she settled in Echo Park, where she worked as an artist and teacher and attended Charles White’s drawing class at the Otis Art Institute. There Jackson engaged a community of artist peers and initiated Gallery 32, showcasing figures like David Hammons, Timothy Washington, Alonzo Davis, Dan Concholar, Senga Nengudi, George Evans, Gloria Bohanon, Betye Saar and Emory Douglas. Hosting discussions, experimental exhibitions and artist lectures, Gallery 32 embodied the notion of a gallery serving as a vehicle for community engagement, togetherness and resistance, representing a significant space in contextualizing Jackson’s artistic practice within broader political and social histories.
Suzanne Jackson (b. 1944, St. Louis, Missouri) lives and works in Savannah, Georgia. She received an MFA in theater design from Yale University in 1990 and is a recipient of the Jacob Lawrence Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters (2022), an Anonymous Was A Woman grant (2021), NYFA Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award (2020) and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (2019). Recent solo and survey exhibitions include Somethings in the World, Galleria d’Arte Moderna of Milan (2023); To Bend the Ear of the Outer World: Conversations on contemporary abstract painting, Gagosian, London (2023); Tennessee Triennial for Contemporary Art, Knoxville Museum of Art (2023); Suzanne Jackson: Listen’ N Home, the Arts Club of Chicago (2022); Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2022); Joan Didion: What She Means, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2022); Suzanne Jackson: Five Decades, Jepson Center/Telfair Museums, Savannah (2019); Life Model: Charles White and His Students, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2019); West by Midwest, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2018–2019); Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Brooklyn Museum, New York and the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (2018–2020); Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, MoMA PS1, New York, and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts (2011–2013); Gallery 32 & Its Circle, Laband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles (2009). Her work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Buffalo AKG Art Museum; MCA San Diego; California African American Museum, Los Angeles; Baltimore Museum of Art; and Art Institute of Chicago, among others.