Ianthe Jackson is an artist and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work explores ideas of place, perception and our relationship to the natural world. Her primary medium is drawing, sculpture and animation. Recently she has been experimenting with fiber.
Her work has been shown Nationally and Internationally. Most recently she had a solo show at the Delapleine Art Center in Maryland, and participated in MaLonNY in Mariampoli, Lithuania. She has attended residencies at Art Omi, Sculpture Space and Homeland Gallery.
Ianthe is also the founder and president of Outside In Art Inc, an arts organization focusing on creating community among artists and providing arts-based workshops for adults and children. She collaborates with artists Mike Estabrooke and Vandana Jain to create and develop their studio space, Cloud of BATs, through collaboration, regular screenings and open studio events.
How would you describe your artwork?
Ianthe: I make drawings, sculpture, installation, animation and fiber arts. Currently the work depicts images based in nature. The work explores ideas of place, perception and our relationship to the natural world.
How did you develop your distinct aesthetic style and craft? Was it an experimental process, iterative?
Ianthe: I think anyone who makes work has a natural distinctive style, process and content. This is what is so interesting about art. You can really see and learn from it, it is the most idiosyncratic thing in the world. I think being a creative person, I am very observant and sensitive to what is going on around me. The work can reflect my interpretation and response to it.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Ianthe: The beginning of everything I do stems from drawing. It is the primary source of my work. In some ways drawing acts as a means for my thought process to unfold, literally, like speech coming out of your mouth, it is thoughts coming through images. In other ways it is a way to map and plan work that I am thinking about making. These drawings function more like a plan. While drawing these types of drawings I am able to imagine how they can be built and created and buys me time and mental space to figure it out. Drawing leads to other processes such as sculptures, installations, animations and more recently fiber arts such as weaving and embroidery. Regardless of the mediums, I work in the element of drawing lives within it. There are drawn elements creating spaces and images while embodying another medium.
Do you ever experience “artist’s block?” If so, what are some strategies you’ve used to overcome it?
Ianthe: Artist block happens to us all I imagine. I tend to just dedicate time to work on anything that comes to mind. I don’t put any constraints on myself. I also create what I call automatic drawing which I start by drawing something, usually something that is there in front of me such as an object or sometimes something from my imagination. I then take a look and decide what to add to it and I go on from there. Often times the drawings turn out very interesting. A different thing I may do is a repetitive activity such as stitching cloth or making repetitive pieces for a sculpture. What this does is allow me to think and drift which I then lead me to the next body of work.
How important do you think it is for creatives to develop their knowledge of visual culture?
Ianthe: Important, it is what we do…
What artists of the past or present have inspired you?
Ianthe: There are so many! I am not sure where to begin, I guess some known artists would be William Kendridge, David Lynch, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, I mean, there are a million artists in which we experience their work and it leaves an impact on us. But these are 3 that I keep going back to.
What’s been your greatest artistic success?
Ianthe: There are two ways in which I have recognized my success as an artist, one is having had multiple opportunities to travel to make and exhibit my artwork. Receiving a great exhibit or award feels good but having the experience to travel to other countries/cities and building relationships nationally and internationally is a very great and unique experience. I have worked in England, Rotterdam and Lithuania as well as many American cities to do projects and work in residencies. Another way I have had success is seeing the work over many years develop and seeing the connections over years of work.
What do you have coming up in the future?
Ianthe: It is hard to say what the future will hold. I write this in the midst of COVID-19. It often feels like the world is ending! However there are some things I am working on! I work in a collaborative studio with 2 other artists and we call ourselves Cloud of BATs. At the moment we are working on proposals for a two-person show and also continue to plan the screening program we have been doing over the past 2 years. I am also developing my art organization called Outside In Art which has visual arts education programming and I am developing a retreat site and sculpture park site at the upstate NY location. Within this I will be collaborating with other artists as well.
Do you have any words of advice for new artists?
Ianthe: Over the course of all my years making art, my advice is to keep making art, even if it feels repetitive or directionless. Everything you do leads you to the next thing. It is the timeline of the work that gives it its voice and direction, not always the moment. There will be many times when you don’t know what something is or why you are drawn to do it but in looking back at it you can see relationships and meaning in the work. It is the discipline of continuing to work that keeps you going. I also think staying true to what you are doing or feel compelled to do is so important, it is so easy to be distracted by other agendas especially in this virtual world of overstimulation. So in short- stay true to yourself and be a disciplined worker!
To find out more about Ianthe and her work please visit some of the links below: