A Freeland artist is hoping to create history with his first ever solo show featuring the colorful leaders and architects behind past freedom movements.
In Ian Joseph Jackson’s art, these icons – such as Ella Baker, a lesser known civil rights activist responsible for helping coordinate the Freedom Riders movement in 1961 to protest segregated bus terminals – coexist with other beings, often deities, from different traditions, cultures and mythologies. These influences, referred to as the gender-neutral term “godises” by the artist, guide the progress of human history.
“Connecting these deities, these archetypes with these figures here is kind of representing the idea that at our core, we all have a central divinity that unites us and that’s what we’re seeking to remember on this plane, on this stage of history,” Jackson said.
His show, “The Liberation of Color,” opened on Martin Luther King Day and runs until March 5 in the Hub Gallery in the Bayview Cash Store. Goosefoot Community Fund is the sponsor and organizer of all art shows occurring in this gallery, including Jackson’s.
Using a combination of alcohol-based and paint markers with an acrylic medium on photo paper, Jackson created his strikingly colorful imagery ripe with recurring symbols of fertility, birth, death and awakening. His previous studies in religion and philosophy form the basis of his body of work – amazingly, Jackson created everything on display within the last six to eight months. He acknowledged that when it comes to his artistic pursuits, he’s usually prolific.
“Liberation of Color” also happens to coincide with Black History Month. The aim of the show, Jackson explained, is to highlight some less familiar female figures of the civil rights movement.
“That’s part of what I’m trying to achieve here, is shed light in areas that have traditionally been kept in the dark,” he said.
To Jackson, “Liberation of Color” is about connecting the journey of the soul with various freedom movements from around the world.
“I think part of my own journey is coming back to my love of the colors that inspired me as a child before I started being separated out into thinking, ‘No, I’m a boy, I can’t love pink,’” he said.
His art show in Bayview is the beginning of a multi-media project. Besides making visual art, he writes poems and essays, creates music and dyes his own clothing, all centered on the same subject his show focuses on. He’s currently working with an animator to bring his art to life in a video form, something he hopes to do more once the funds are secured.
A series of “pop-up shop” events on the second floor of the Bayview Cash Store will feature prints, greeting cards and wearable art made by Jackson at 4-8 p.m. on Feb. 3 and 8, 1-6 p.m. on Feb. 20, 4-8 p.m. on March 2 and 12-5 p.m. on March 5. During 12-5 p.m. on Feb. 12 and 1-6 p.m. on Feb. 18, Jackson will give a gallery talk and sign copies of his new poetry book. Somewhere along the line, he’d like to work in a discussion addressing the connections between his work and the recent murder of Tyre Nichols.
Nearly four years ago, Jackson made a leap of faith and moved from New York City to Whidbey Island, a decision he said has led him to higher planes and created incredible opportunities. Though he doesn’t know where life will take him next, he’s got a pretty solid notion.
“I have no idea where it’s going but I can see that it’s going to be very bright, at least in terms of the color spectrum,” he said.