New Stone Center exhibit explores black history through figurative visions
Contemporary African-American figurative artist Stefanie Jackson is making sure Black History Month is seen and not just heard.
The Sonja Haynes Stone Center is hosting Jackson’s exhibit, "La Sombra y el Espiritu IV: Figurative Visions and Collective Histories — The Work of Stefanie Jackson," until May 13.
Jackson's work explores important events in U.S. and African-American history, including the Atlanta race riots and the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, said Joseph Jordan, the director of the Stone Center.
“Her work is figurative visions, because if you see her work, it’s really compelling in that way,” said Clarissa Goodlett, the program and public communications officer at the Stone Center. “It’s hard to describe these images unless you see them. There’s a lot happening in each painting.”
The exhibit is the fourth in a series entitled "La Sombra y el Espiritu."
Jordan said Jackson's art will provide an opportunity to see how the concepts of shadow and spirit relate to African-American lives and experiences, and sought her out due to her prominence as an artist and the issues her work addresses.
“Hopefully they will engage and ask the kind of questions that most likely will be raised once they experience the images,” Jordan said.
Jackson said her paintings are a mixture of the reality of what she experiences and historical issues associated with each setting.
“Because the art is representational, people can respond to it more easily than if it was abstract,” she said. “With it being representational, people can look at the scene and try to figure it out and have fun with it a little bit.”
Jackson is a professor at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. Her work is included in the permanent collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.
Jackson cites African-American authors such as James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston as inspirational people who explore similar themes in their writing.
"I’m greatly influenced by literature in relation to thinking about stories to create my paintings,” Jackson said.
Goodlett said she believes the exhibit will be well received by students.
“I think the timing is really great,” Goodlett said. “We’re celebrating Black History Month, and her paintings her very much in this context of black history and historical events.”
The Stone Center will be introducing Guide by Cell for this exhibit, where patrons can dial a number on their cell phone and receive guided commentary on each painting.
“It’s something we’re doing new this year, which we’re really excited about,” said Goodlett.
While Jackson's home isn't in Chapel Hill, she's excited to bring her work to the Triangle.
"I really enjoy seeing my artwork exposed to the community here in Chapel Hill."
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