by Jed Jackson
February 3 – March 15, 2017
Jed Jackson received his BFA from Memphis College of Art in Tennessee in 1977, and his MFA from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1980. He has taught art course at the university and college level for 35 years and is currently a professor of painting at the University of Memphis, where he also chaired the Art Department from 1999-2006. His work has been widely exhibited both here and abroad, and it can be found in several public collections, including the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, the Indiana State University Art Museum, and the New York Academy of Art, to name only a few. He has also been the subject of numerous articles in publications such as the New Art Examiner, Vanity Fair, Arts Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and New American Paintings.
Jackson says of his work: “My gouache [opaque watercolor] paintings originate in a phrase or idea [that is] translated into a design linking image and text to create an often biting or humorous commentary.”
The pieces currently on display were selected by Jackson in response to the phrase, “Who Do You Trust?,” a topic that has been explored in a variety of ways at Luther College during the 2016-17 academic year.
Additional information can be found at his personal website.
“'Who Do You Trust?' is an increasingly thorny question in an era where the public apparently cannot clearly distinguish between sincerity of purpose and the long con. Mark Twain immortalized the con game with his “Duke and Dauphin“ characters in “Huckleberry Finn”. Sympathetic con men such as those played often by W.C. Fields in his films continue to remind us that the con man is a staple of American popular culture. Supposedly benign icons of innocent creativity such as Walt Disney were deeply engaged in mass deceptions and laundering of criminal “scientists” careers in the service of “utopian” entertainment. In more recent manifestations, the films “The Sting” and “American Hustle” have fetishized the long con; its protagonists celebrated as American “anti-hero” types. The idea of the prey or “Mark” of the con man reminds me of the 1953 warning of William S. Burroughs when he said, “Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside.”
Recent events in American politico/cultural life have forcefully illustrated the power of the con artist to deploy the forces of the social media to persuade and propagandize an impressionable and docile public, with incendiary and divisive results.
The paintings exhibited here represent a sample of musings on the political and cultural forces that warp and distort facts and formerly admirable and teachable values such as sincerity and truth in service of a cynical economic/cultural end. This musing covers over 30 years of my work both in oil and in gouache. As a committed painter, the continued appeal of the painted image, as opposed to the photo-digital variety, is its spontaneity, flexibility and directness and the heightened ability to convey the artist’s emotion and pictorial uniqueness."