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Jonathan Mark Jackson

Jonathan Mark Jackson (b. 1996) received a Bachelor’s of Art degree within the Art & The History of Art department at Amherst College. He is currently pursuing his MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design. Jackson’s work seeks to engage with historical facts through objects, landscape, and the human form. Through the combination of photographs and language, Jackson calls attention to the mysterious forces that cloud, torment, and stall the formation of a Black American identity.

Artist Statement

I feel a guiding call to investigate the presences of historic Black life wherever I go. Within New England, there is a palpable, perhaps enforced, socialization to move through the land with the knowledge of it being the origin point for the country.  My research based practice has taken me to the preserved homes and workplaces of my ancestors, of which my paternal line stems from the port towns of Rhode Island. My work functions as a system of measurement of the self. I come to a greater understanding of the world by activating this ancient present tense. I am working within the intellectual tradition of the writer Toni Morrison, who, when describing the function of her own work stated, “I want to draw a map, so to speak, of a critical geography and use that map to open space for discovery, intellectual adventure, and close exploration as did the original charting of the new world - without the mandate for conquest.” (Morrison, Playing In the Dark, 15.)  

I too seek to open the door to alternate realities, hidden histories, and un-geographic truths. Within this current moment, I have been drawn to photographing within historically preserved homes with direct connections to the legacy of slavery. I feel that I am engaging in a deeper exploration of property - as a value, need, right, construct, and material. The interplay between photography and written narrative is forming a core within my practice. In each subsequent work, I try to move toward answering my central research question - How do we, Black Americans, form systems of self-identity through the preservation, protection, or destruction of property? 

Release Date: August 20, 2021

Double Figure was made in Northfield, MA along a bank of the Connecticut River. It was around the time of the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., and flocking to the hills felt appropriate and safe. At the time I was also researching paths of the Underground Railroad in the state. I became fixated on making this kind of double portrait, where the figure is following itself through the brush. I felt that the action of double exposure visualized the kind of ancestral/historical interference that I often think about. Being able to step in the footsteps of someone else

Double Figure, 2020

Release Date: January 21, 2022

Sea, House is a double exposure made from an exercise of moving in between a house and the coast of the Atlantic. The proximity of everything in New England to big water interests me. I wanted think of the home as an elemental material, just like water. The home pictured is Robbins’ House in Concord, MA. It is the preserved structure of a Black revolutionary war veteran, Caesar Robbins, built in 1823.

Sea, House, 2020

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