Tomashi Jackson Layers History to Reveal Contemporary Injustice
January 22, 2024
Most of the time that Tomashi Jackson is creating art, she says that she doesn’t know what the final product will look like. Instead of aesthetics, she is more focused on the extensive methodical research that goes into the work — as in the case of “I See Fields of Green (Put the Ball Through the Hoop)” (2022), a multimedia painting intersecting historic scenes from a 1963 speech given by President Lyndon B. Johnson at the University of Michigan, a 1965 meeting between the president and Black organizers over voting rights legislation, and a 1969 performance by Nina Simone at Morehouse College. Layered with symbolic earthen materials gathered from Colorado, the colorful work contends with a paradoxical tension of violent realities and an unyielding hope for a better future.
It’s one of many works by Jackson that visitors can see next month in the multimedia artist’s first mid-career survey, Across the Universe, opening at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania on February 10. Originally displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver), the exhibition features more than 30 pieces spanning photography, textiles, video, painting, screenprinting, and sculpture from the past decade to provide a comprehensive look at her research-based practice and signature use of kaleidoscopic color and layering to address issues of systemic oppression.