Already one of the cultural highlights of 2019, Suzanne Jackson's Five Decades Retrospective at the Telfair Museums' Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah, Georgia (USA), just doubled its considerable impact with officials' announcement of the September 25, 2019, scheduled publication of the exhibition catalog and immediate acceptance of pre-orders for the title.
A highly-regarded but often overlooked visual artist throughout her career, the opening of Jackson's retrospective on June 27 has brought her increasing international recognition and critical acclaim. The new catalog, edited by Telfair Museums curator Rachel Reese, promises to deliver more of the same with powerful text contributions from: iconic artist Betye Saar, Dr. Tiffany C. Barber, Dr. Melanee C. Harvey, Ph.D. candidate julia elizabeth neal, and author-poet-artist Aberjhani.
As pointed out by Shantay Robinson writing for Black Art in America: "Suzanne Jackson is the flower that sprouts up through the crack of the concrete.... Her passion is evident through more than five decades of work. Despite turbulent times, where racism and sexism might have rejected her, she believes in love and beauty. And this belief sustains" (Suzanne Jackson Five Decades of Encouraging Life).
A similar observation can be found in Aberjhani's poem, "Suzannian Algorithm Finger-Painted on an Abstract Wall," composed specifically for the catalog. In it, he notes: "Her Life, like her Love, pulses painted poems/ streaking an abstract wall with impeccable grace."
Reflective of Current Trends
Jackson's work in many ways reflects the historical trends which have developed over the past few years and which are likely to influence world culture for the foreseeable future. Strong correlations to Meaningful relevance to demands for environmental justice, the powerful movement to increase gender equality, intensified advocacy to end racism, and expanding cultural diversity are all easily apparent within her work. Moreover, this relevance and the hard-won recognition of the artist's labors comes during the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, a period when a handful of influential African-American women artists first began to pave the way for future talents like Saar and Jackson.
"I don't think the service which the Telfair Museums has rendered the world by creating the Five Decades Retrospective, and which Suzanne Jackson herself has done by living her vision all these years, can be overstated," said Aberjhani. "We're at a tipping point in history where her visualized insights stand among some of the most valuable tools available for engaging in critical discourses of existential consequence and designing strategies for confronting some of our most urgent social and political challenges."
Jackson's retrospective is currently scheduled to remain at the Telfair Museums Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah until October 13, 2019. To learn about the catalog or pre-order a copy please visit the museum's online shop.
Bright Skylark News Notes
Books containing compelling narrative writing combined with appealing fine art by a single creative individual are rare. That makes the forthcoming nonfiction narrative collection by Aberjhani, titled "Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah" (ISBN 978-9388125956), Cyberwit.net Publishers) as well as the artwork from it featured here at Fine Art America/Pixels.com, highly collectible. In addition, the rarity makes them likely to continue increasing in value.
The images in the book are black and white versions of color prints which may be viewed by clicking here: Art from and Inspired by Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah
Previous announcements concerning a book including art by Aberjhani stated it would be one of art and poetry titled "Incandescent Wonder," so the news regarding "Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah" took some by surprise.
"The inclusion of my art and photography in Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah surprised me as well," said the artist-author, "but I've been working on the narrative part of this title for a decade and have been posting updates about it on Facebook and my primary website for the past two years. The art and photography help complete the book in a lot of ways I never expected. I'm glad for the inspiration that prompted me to include it."
The recently-posted art titled "Historic Triumph of Dr. Abigail Jordan" corresponds with the 2019 update of the story in DREAMS titled "The Bridge and the Monument: A Tale of Two Legacies." Aberjhani was in the process of completing edits for the book when he learned Dr. Jordan, who for a decade led efforts to erect the famous African-American Family Monument on River Street in Savannah, had passed in January. She is one of three people to whom the new book is dedicated.
"Learning about Abigail Jordan's passing was quite a shock because so little upon her death was done to publicly acknowledge this great woman whose devotion to eradicating racism and promoting cultural literacy in Savannah has blessed the city so much. The unveiling of the monument in 2002 made headlines around the world. How media in the city neglected to properly acknowledge Jordan's passing is somewhat mystifying but hopefully we will correct that by adding her name more prominently to the monument itself in the form of a plaque or historical marker."
Pre-sales for the first limited edition of "Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah," due out May 1, 2019, are currently available for ordering here:
Pre-Order Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah Now
--Bright Skylark News Notes
Most formal reviews or critiques of books by Aberjhani currently exist in the form of hard-copy newspaper, journal, and magazine articles from the previous decade. A change of formats, however, has gotten underway with recent online posts of reviews focused on some of his earlier work as well as more recent titles.
One notable update is Education Book Mix’s video review of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance posted on YouTube. The automated voice sounds jagged at moments but the year 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance and the review on Education Book Mix underscores the book’s importance.
As Noted on Goodreads
Canadian Richard Van Holst, writing on the Goodreads author and readers community website, posted recent reviews of both Aberjhani’s first book, I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, and his more recent popular title, The River of Winged Dreams. While Goodreads boasts than several million members, many of whom often post reviews, Van Holst happens to be among the site’s top 10 best reviewers.
In the review of I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, he described the collection of short fiction and poetry as “brash, bold and daring.” He further notes in the same review that “Aberjhani's vivid style makes a powerful impression. But more importantly, he writes as one who is aware of where he comes from and of his function as a writer.”
Van Holst’s reading of The River of Winged Dreams came after I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, prompting the this response: “They are both intense and packed with meaning. There is still a sense of being mystically connected to nature. The spirituality is still rooted in body, time, place and family, but manages to transcend them.”
Much of the author’s observations are consistent with various online responses to single poems, stories, and articles by Aberjhani posted on the Internet. The following are links to the full reviews:
Richard Van Holst Review of I Made My Boy Out of Poetry
Richard Van Holst Review of The River of Winged Dreams