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Roxanne Jackson’s Ceramics Personify the Duality in Us All

Installation view. Courtesy of The Hole.

Roxanne Jackson: Nature is a Whore: A Comedy & A Tragedy

The Hole

September 7 through October 30, 2022

By RAINA MEHLER, November 2022

Roxanne Jackson reinvents the medium of ceramics, utilizing traditional and contemporary techniques, to create powerful artworks that allude to themes of transformation, dualism, and mythology. Jackson is a ceramic artist and sculptor living in Brooklyn and upstate New York. Her body of work consists of vases, and human and animal references. The latter are often hybrid creatures that are in a state of decay, decapitated, or flayed. The vases hark back to the amphoras of Greco-Roman times, but she updates this traditional subject by adding unconventional objects like lips, bananas, shells, feathers, and oysters that are rampant with symbolism and innuendo. Jackson takes a traditional or rather an ancient medium often dubbed as a “feminine” craft and completely turns that notion on its head. Her skillful combination of forms, glazing, and textures exemplify her mastery of the medium, and the overall subject matter suggests tropes from sci-fi, witchcraft, and the femme fatale. 

Roxanne Jackson, Tiger Head Cornucopia (Fuck Yeah!), 2022. Ceramic, glaze, underglaze, luster, epoxy, 10 x 52 x 18 inches, 45 x 152 x 33 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Her most recent solo show at The Hole in New York titled Nature is a Whore: A Comedy & A Tragedy,” (Sept 7th through October 30, 2022) features a wide range of her ceramic pieces, exhibiting the vases, hands, animal and figurative series. Instead of entering a brightly lit, white cube space, the entire room has been taken over by darkness with spotlights on the artwork. The navy walls and blue carpeted floor transports viewers. The elevated stairs lining the room and the pedestals have varying heights. The exhibition feels like entering a shrine or religious space, an undiscovered holy land. But are we wandering in a dream or lost in a nightmare? It is a modern-day Garden of Eden – after Eve took a bite from the forbidden fruit.  

One of the first sculptures upon entering the room is Medusa, a severed head with multiple eyes, a red tongue sticking out, golden spiraled horns, snakes slithering from the head, and blood spilling out from the rotting neck. Is Medusa the new Eve? Whether dead or alive, it possesses viewers. There is also a beheaded tiger with fruit, shrimp, lemons, and limes sprawling out across the pedestal in the shape of its body – the objects stand in for its entrails. 

Roxanne Jackson, Love Curse, 2022. Ceramic, glaze, luster, fake fur, 7 x 13 x 11 inches, 18 x 33 x 28 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Another common motif in her oeuvre is oversized hands that are palms-up, a gesture signifying an offering or begging. Sometimes the exquisitely glazed hands have hair or grasp candles. In Love Curse, it holds chocolate-covered strawberries, and it has a bite mark. Do we bite the hand that feeds? Are we the hunter or the hunted? Her work suggests the duality in us, revealing what we try to conceal: vulnerability, gluttony, primal fear, repulsion, and desire. Do we cave into them or run away? The grotesqueness, the flesh, open wounds, and viscera allusions invoke a corporeal sensation. Her work awakens us to truly see the animal in ourselves, and it feels as if we have been split wide open with our inner secrets and innards laid out on pedestals on public display. 

Jackson revolutionizes a conventional medium and creates her own 21st-century iconography. Despite the death, decay, and putrid, the absurdity unveils the comedic side of her work. Ultimately, it implies the twofoldness in the world and inside us all: good and evil, light and dark, beauty and savagery. These artworks linger in our memory, haunting us as if we have seen the reflection of Medusa herself. The artworks manifest and immortalize what is deep inside that only our unconscious can unlock, attempting to release the monster we constantly resist relinquishing to. 

Jackson’s ceramics will be featured at two art fairs, Design Miami and Untitled Art Fair with Room 57 Gallery; as part of Art Basel Miami. These artworks are on view from November 29 - December 5th and are must-sees in Miami. WM

Roxanne Jackson & Brecht Wright Gander 

Design Miami: Booth C07

December 1 through December 5, 2022

Roxanne Jackson, Andrea Kamini Parikh, Jude Hughes, Yam Shalev 

Untitled Art FairBooth C52 

November 29 through December 3, 2022

Raina Marie

Raina Marie currently serves as a Director at Pace Gallery and is part of Pace Verso, the gallery’s Web3 hub. She has worked at Pace for over a decade, working closely with interdisciplinary artist collectives and specializing in media arts. Raina Marie is also an independent curator, collector, and writer, working with physical and digital art. She writes and speaks globally about the art market, art history, media arts, and Web3.

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