Time Out of Mind
In this body of work, Jackson seeks to explore new uses of material, geometric abstraction and color interaction to visualize two disparate moments in history where the arguments of eminent domain are used to dispossess and displace targeted communities in New York. This investigation spans histories from 1857 to the present, from the displacement of what was Seneca Village in our present day Central Park to the contemporary seizures of fully paid for, fully owned properties through the city’s use of the Third Party Transfer Program.
Jackson’s research focuses on the 1850s when Frederick Law Olmstead planned and built Central Park, disrupting and displacing the entirety of the long established community of Seneca Village, a site within the park with three churches, two schools, two cemeteries and a thriving population. Founded by free African Americans, Seneca Village had the highest percentage of Black property ownership in the city. Shocking parallels to this early disruption and disregard for an established population were uncovered when Jackson extended her research to examine present day New York City developers who succeed in challenging long established black ownership of property, a practice rarely written about or acknowledged.
The work is based on historical documents from archives on the creation of Central Park in the mid-1800s and draws upon the work by contemporary journalists Kelly Mena and Stephen Witt in the King’s County Politics New York newspaper. Information on the park and its people has also been found in Roy Rosenzweig and Elizabeth Blackmar’s The Park and the People: A History of Central Park.
G A L L E R Y Jackson’s work examines these two histories, past and present, that are disturbingly similar, both framing the dispossession of the homes of black populations as acceptable in the name of redevelopment. Weaving printed images taken from photographs of individuals from both periods into her colorful abstract, collage paintings, Jackson creates vibrant works of art that investigate color, light and perception, all the while presenting us with the collision of two histories, a literal and figurative melding of past and present.
Symbolic of this overlap in time is a monoprint that collapses the images of two men from these widely separated historical periods into one image, becoming a limited value exercise where two colors are made to look like one. In her larger painted and sculptural works, images from each period are printed onto mylar strips that overlay the geometric paintings on canvas and collaged paper. Transparency and translucency, the transmittal of light and color, are central to these works. A bright blue awning from which more of these colorful, but translucent strips seem to fall refers to the many abandoned store fronts found throughout the city.