Telfair Museums presents Suzanne Jackson: Five Decades, the first full-career retrospective of the American artist (b. 1944). On view June 28 through October 13 at Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center, the exhibition explores Jackson’s luminous output over a professional career spanning more than 50 years, highlighting her visual art as well as her relationship with other art forms, including poetry, costume design, and dance.
The 42 works— several on loan from noteworthy public and private collections—and complementary archival materials demonstrate Jackson’s artistic evolution from 1959 to 2019. Even individual works double as documentation to record the changes in her artistic approach, as she often works and reworks surfaces over multiple years in an intuitive, experimental process. In addition to marking time over six decades of active studio practice, the works trace Jackson’s career across the continental United States, reflecting her stylistic shifts as she journeyed from California to the Northeast and finally to Savannah, as well as her professional shifts between student and teacher roles throughout her lifetime. Jackson’s professional art career began in 1960s California, where she contributed significantly to the communities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Idyllwild, respectively, including Jackson’s founding of the pioneering Gallery 32, which became a critical art space for supporting black artists in Los Angeles. In the 1980s, Jackson ventured east and changed her focus to theater design, completing an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. It was at this time that her relationship toward materials and processes changed dramatically: She broke away from conventionally stretched canvas and began embracing untraditional and dynamic hanging methods that reflect her interest in set design and its impact on the body and space.