A public garden & cultural center

Ariel Jackson

Ariel Jackson
The Blues Data Crop: The Gains and Losses 
of Black Farmers in America                                                                                                    
Sunroom Project Space | September 13 – October 23, 2016          
Van Lier Visual Artist Fellow | 2016 

The Blues Data Crop: The Gains and Losses of Black Farmers in America, 2016, screen print and found fabric on muslin, found fabric, wire, polyester fill, wooden dowels, ink on muslin, soil, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo:Stefan Hagen

Challenging the media’s sensationalized depictions of African American communities, Ariel Jackson creates an alternative storyline through fabric sculpture, paper collage, video and performance. She has developed a self-referential narrative around alter egos and characters inspired by science fiction and Afrofuturism. These chronicles relate mainly to Jackson’s own experience as a black woman who grew up in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As a Van Lier Visual Artist Fellow, Jackson developed her project during the 2016 Winter Workspace, drawing inspiration from Wave Hill’s natural environs and plant collection.
Jackson’s installation in the Sunroom stems from research she has conducted in an attempt to understand her family’s history, particularly beginning in the 1950s, when her grandparents acquired and then eventually lost nearly 300 acres of farmland in rural Louisiana. A collage of photos of her grandparents and other family members working on the farm has been silkscreened onto three quilts, using a printing technique that only allows a 30 to 50 percent chance of yielding a clear image. The reasons for the loss of her ancestors’ property have not been determined or well-documented, and the ghost-like, printed images reflect the artist’s frustration with having to weave together a narrative from hazy memories and incomplete information. In addition to these quilted wall hangings, rows of fabric sculptures inhabit the floor of the Sunroom. Resembling crop formations, these sculptures were made from textiles that her grandmother used. Atop the fabric “leaves” of each sculpture, the artist has printed notes from Pete Daniel’s 2013 book Dispossession: Discrimination against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights, which formed the core of Jackson’s research. As visitors walk through the rows of “data crops,” they are immersed in the fraught history of land ownership and sharecropping by black farmers in this country.

The Blues Data Crop: The Gains and Losses of Black Farmers in America, 2016, screen print and found fabric on muslin, found fabric, wire, polyester fill, wooden dowels, ink on muslin, soil, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo:Stefan Hagen

 

Winter Workspace 2016

Ariel Jackson speaking to visitors in her Winter Workspace studio, March 2016.

During the Winter Workspace, Jackson incorporated personal photos and stories of her grandfather, an African American farmer who once owned land that was later confiscated. Jackson conflates this legacy with the story of her alter ego Confuserella, who comes from a planet where the inhabitants grew their own colors until their land was taken over and they were forced to leave. Jackson created fabric sculptures and quilts that are inspired by the shapes, colors and patterns of plants in Wave Hill’s collection and that incorporate old photos of her grandparents.

Artist website 

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts. 
 

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