Image: Suzanne Jackson, Bilali’s Dream (detail), 2004
Suzanne Jackson has been making art professionally since the 1960s—first in Los Angeles, California, where she founded the artist-run space Gallery 32, and eventually in Savannah, Georgia, where she moved to teach in 1996. Her paths in painting included moments as a dancer on tour in South America and as a Yale School of Drama graduate, working as a scenic designer in national theaters. Jackson’s relocation to the south in the 1990s marked a shift in her visual idiom, which became more abstract, three-dimensional, and environmental. She worked intensively, yet in relative obscurity, during this period of her life in the building that remains to this day both her working and living space. The paintings and related drawings made in this era developed physical layers, warped surfaces, or projecting forms that incorporated materials of the studio and domestic life. Most recently, Jackson’s paintings have taken a radical turn by lifting the pigment and medium off the canvas substrate, as no artist has done before. These partially transparent works suspend color, light, material, and form in mid-air, literally removing painting from the constraints of the support. Listen’ N Home conjures the imagined soundtrack to Jackson’s artmaking referencing blues, swing, and what she calls “Classical African American Music”. Through a selective representation of pivotal works from the past twenty years, as well as a newly made monumental installation, the exhibition at The Arts Club of Chicago presents Jackson’s turn to environmental abstraction, marking the territory and trajectory of her late-life breakthrough paintings.
Suzanne Jackson (b. 1944, St. Louis) lives and works in Savannah, Georgia. From 1969–1970 she ran Gallery 32 from her live/ work studio at 672 South Lafayette Park Place in Los Angeles. Recent solo and survey exhibitions include In Nature’s Way…, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2022); You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby: The Sapphire Show, Ortuzar Projects, New York (2021); Off the Wall, Mnuchin Gallery, New York (2021); News!, Ortuzar Projects, New York (2019); Five Decades, Jepson Center/Telfair Museums, Savannah (2019); holding on to a sound, O-Town House, Los Angeles (2019); Life Model: Charles White and His Students, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2019); West by Midwest, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2018–19); 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 (2018–20); 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 (2011–13); Gallery 32 & Its Circle, Laband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles (2009). Her work is in the permanent collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. She has been granted awards by Anonymous Was a Woman (2021), New York Foundation for the Arts (2021), and the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2019).
Photo credit: Michael Tropea