For this feature, T asked four visual artists to create original artwork that complemented their own experience and advice.
TOMASHI JACKSON, 42,
MIXED MEDIA ARTIST
I originally made this piece with the intention of positioning [the artist] Tschabalala Self at its center when we were [at the Yale School of Art] in 2015. I was experimenting with using painting and video in order to explore the history of school desegregation and present-day police brutality against Black children and was dedicating the effort to Aiyana Stanley-Jones [a 7-year-old girl killed by Detroit police in 2010]. Then it lay dormant for years. In 2016, [the painter] Eric N. Mack let me store it in a corner of his studio in the Bronx. Then it moved again, to my Brooklyn studio at ArtBuilt. Last month, I unfurled it and it broke into three pieces. I called up [the painter] Jennifer Packer and asked her, “Should I let these go now?” She replied, “I don’t think you should throw them away.” So I held on to them.
Finally, I got the work to my new studio in Massachusetts, where things started moving. Orderly direction comes from getting lost in the work. My eyes and my hands know what has to be done next because of what the painting is showing me. Visual artists need to encourage each other before certain outside values are ascribed to a thing. Sometimes, we can learn the true meaning of a piece by hitting pause so that it can change and possibly take on a new form that we can’t anticipate.