Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013
Art & Soul: Music inspires exhibit at Indigo Sky
By Allison Hersh
For Savannah Morning News
Suzanne Jackson's B.B. Playin' With My Friends
Suzanne Jackson's Big Blues Moon
In Savannah, Suzanne Jackson is widely known as “an artist’s artist.”
An experimental creative force, she enjoys exploring textures in her mixed media work, pushing the physical boundaries of the materials at hand.
At her 41st Street studio in Savannah’s Thomas Square neighborhood, Jackson layers acrylic paint until it becomes a thick, pliable sheet of color she can roll up like a placemat. She hangs crumpled canvases on the wall and creates intricate assemblages from found objects like leaves, feathers, lace and netting.
In “BirdMusic,” Jackson’s solo exhibition on display at Indigo Sky Community Gallery, she exhibits an inventive series of paintings, drawings and monoprints reflecting her lifelong love of music.
“Music helps me create my own work,” she explains. “I’ve been listening to music by Sarah Vaughan and Duke Ellington all my life. There was music playing at home all the time when I was growing up. It’s a part of me.”
At her studio, she paints to the cello strains of YoYo Ma in the morning and to a wide range of jazz and blues in the afternoon and evening. Music inspired the overheated reverie of “Bitali’s Dream,” with its swirling shapes and frenzied colors, and the elegant expression of “Sea Wall Signs,” with its delicate turquoise and copper forms.
This longtime Savannah College of Art and Design professor, who now teaches art at Savannah State University, incorporates nearly a dozen shades of yellow in “Ibis II,” an intricate abstract watercolor on crimped sheets of paper. She magnifies the familiar hues defining local marshscapes — from earthy maize to electric sunflower — until they become almost otherworldly.
In “Woodpecker’s Last Blues,” she applies red bud leaves, woodpecker feathers and tar paper on deer netting, creating a web-like structure which alludes to the richness of the natural world and suggests the traces we leave behind. She overlays each object with a thick sheen of lacquer, providing a slick, alluring finish that enhances the artifice of her construction.
By contrast, “TSphere M-1” serves as a visual tribute to jazz legend Thelonious Monk. In this large-format mixed media work, Jackson tops a wooden frame strung with mosquito mesh with a dense pastiche of lace, netting and painted paper, creating loose, dreamy geometric forms supported by a solid wooden structure beneath. The composition seems to symbolize Monk’s music, with its effortless juxtaposition of the ethereal and the earthy.
Jackson’s ambitious compositions at Indigo Sky are defined by bright colors, dense textures, loose brush strokes and organic forms. She gravitates toward soft, curving lines rather than harsh, sharp edges.
“I really don’t like square edges,” she laughs. “For me, it feels unnatural. Nature has a lot of curves and jagged edges. Man-made things tend to have straight edges, but our lives are not hard-edged. There’s always a continuum.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Suzanne Jackson was born in St. Louis and grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. Over the years, she has exhibited her work at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the California Museum of African-American History and Culture, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Joseph J. Hirshhorn Museum, the Smithsonian Institution and the Library for Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. She moved to Savannah in 1988 to work as an art professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She currently teaches art at Savannah State University and exhibits her work across the country.
IF YOU GO
What: “BirdMusic,” featuring paintings, drawings and monoprints by Suzanne Jackson
When: Through Oct. 13
Gallery Hours: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday and by appointment
Where: Indigo Sky Community Gallery, 915 Waters Ave.
For more information: 912-233-7659