“It was like all the wind was knocked out of me. I thought, ‘Wow, this is just daunting … there’s so little that I know, and I am a direct beneficiary of these policies.’”
So she went back to school herself, poring over the Brown court transcripts in the Yale Law Library while studying painting and printmaking in the university’s master of fine arts program. That archival research informed her first solo show in New York in 2016, an interrogation of “the subliminal impact of color perception on the value of human life in public space” reads a gallery description of the exhibit.
Two years later, when Radcliffe administrators invited her to create an exhibit, Jackson jumped at the opportunity to tap into the Institute’s vast resources and build on that earlier body of work.
“I immediately thought, ‘This is my chance to return to the Brown research,’” said Jackson, “because I’ve barely scratched the surface.”
Now that new work is ready to view. “Brown II,” on display in Byerly Hall’s Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery, features four evocative paintings based on images from the Schlesinger Library’s archives of Civil Rights activists Pauli Murray and Ruth Batson, two key figures in the fight for public school desegregation. In addition Jackson has on display in the Yard vibrant banners honoring the pair, which will remain up through Thanksgiving. Murray “helped to craft the legal theory that the NAACP relied on during the 1950s to win Brown,” and Batson, a Roxbury native, “was a leader in the struggle to desegregate the Boston schools” in the decades that followed, said Radcliffe Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin during a virtual discussion with the artist last Monday.
“They are the keys to this history, to what happened,” Jackson replied.