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We’re growing! ArtZeum is permanently closed to make room for Telfair Children’s Art Museum, opening this Summer!

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Suzanne Jackson (American, b. 1944); Her Empty Vanity, 2017; acrylic, mixed papers, canvas board, panel, lace, plastic mirror, corrugated cardboard, glitter, resin, netting, leaves, sea glass, paper pulp, wooden stick, beads, shells, and wood boards; 93 x 54 x 6 inches; museum purchase with funds provided by Brenda and Larry Thompson and Jacqueline and Ken Sirlin, 2022.15; photo: Dana Melaver.

SAVANNAH, GA (October 5, 2022) — On September 29, Telfair Museums approved the purchase of Her Empty Vanity, a large-scale work by Savannah-based artist Suzanne Jackson, from Ortuzar Projects. Driven by Telfair’s commitment to the collection and exhibition of historically underrepresented artists, the acquisition of Jackson’s work expands the museum’s collection of contemporary art.

“With this major acquisition, we honor the work of the museum’s neighbor and friend Suzanne Jackson, and join other national and global institutions in celebrating the stunning achievement of this Savannah-based artist,” said Benjamin T. Simons, Telfair’s executive director and CEO. The newly acquired painting will go on view in the upcoming permanent collection exhibition Anything Goes: Contemporary Art and Materials (on view October 28, 2022-May 2023).

Her Empty Vanity is a complex composition of structured papers, canvas, and lace, painted in warm hues of brown, red, purple, and gold. Referencing the absence of her mother through this work, Jackson paints birds alongside a mysterious face and a mirror. Her Empty Vanity illuminates Jackson’s exploration of what has been called “environmental abstraction,” in which her paintings became more abstract and three-dimensional, developing physical layers, warped surfaces, and projecting forms that incorporate materials from her home, studio, or garden. This work immediately predates her current exploration into pure acrylic, double-sided paintings, in which abstract color, light, and gesture are suspended in space in such a way as to mirror the human form.”

Born in 1944 in St. Louis, Jackson moved with her family to San Francisco and eventually to pre-statehood Alaska. She returned to the Bay Area for her studies and worked as an artist and teacher. In 1967, Jackson moved to Los Angeles, where she attended Charles White’s drawing class at the Otis Art Institute. From 1968 to 1970, she opened and managed Gallery 32 in the MacArthur Park neighborhood, which engaged a community of artist peers including David Hammons, Betye Saar, and Emory Douglas, among others. Over the course of her career, Jackson has developed an interdisciplinary practice as an artist, gallerist, dancer, educator, and stage designer and an equally expansive approach to process and medium. Today, Jackson lives and works in Savannah, where she moved in 1996 to teach at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Born in 1944 in St. Louis, Jackson moved with her family to San Francisco and eventually to pre-statehood Alaska. She returned to the Bay Area for her studies and worked as an artist and teacher. While there, Jackson attended Charles White’s drawing class at the Otis Art Institute. From 1968 to 1970, she opened and managed Gallery 32 in Los Angeles, which engaged a community of artist peers including David Hammons, Betye Saar, and Emory Douglas, among others. Over the course of her career, Jackson has developed an interdisciplinary practice as an artist, gallerist, dancer, educator, and stage designer and an equally expansive approach to process and medium. Today, Jackson lives and works in Savannah, where she moved in 1996 to teach at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Suzanne Jackson
Suzanne Jackson

Jackson has been a recent recipient of many awards including the Jacob Lawrence Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2022), an Anonymous Was A Woman grant (2021), NYFA Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award (2020), and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (2019). Her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the California African American Museum, Los Angeles; the Baltimore Museum of Art; and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. She is represented by Ortuzar Projects, New York.

Telfair Museums’ 2019 exhibition, Suzanne Jackson: Five Decades, was the first full-career survey of Jackson’s projects and illuminated 50 years of her diverse practice.

“Telfair Museums is honored to welcome this beautiful work by Suzanne Jackson to enhance the overall collection. Not only is it a striking example of Jackson’s practice, but it continues the conversations started in the 2019 retrospective Five Decades, curated by Rachel Reese, and reinforces the institutional commitment to one of the most compelling artists of our time,” said Erin Dunn, curator of modern and contemporary art. Suzanne Jackson: Five Decades was accompanied by a publication featuring essays and tributes. Telfair’s acquisition of Her Empty Vanity was supported in part by gifts from Brenda and Larry Thompson and Ken and Jacqueline Sirlin.

About Telfair Museums

Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and the first U.S. museum founded by a woman. The museum features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District and encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Telfair Academy. For more information on Telfair Museums, visit telfair.org.