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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW alum Alex Jackson to return to campus as visiting artist

A 2015 UW graduate, Jackson expresses excitement, gratitude for return to campus
Land of See (The Pyrolytic Eye) via Alex Jackson

Philadelphia-based artist Alex Jackson will present his work at the University of Wisconsin for the Spring 2024 Visiting Artist Colloquium Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Jackson’s work with painting, drawing and print-making illuminates a sense of storytelling, myth-making and role-building through narrative and fiction to inspire others to see his art in a new light.

Born in Milwaukee and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Jackson’s life as a child was surrounded by art. He grew up in a home where almost everything was handcrafted, so he knew art was something he always wanted to do and believed that art is instilled in him. His dad was a very creative person with an artistic career and his inspiration for art comes from a way of life that reflects attention to objects and detail.


Jackson returns to UW as an alum after receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2015 for painting and drawing, and later received his Master of Fine Arts from Yale University in 2017 for painting and printmaking.

“Art is my way of thinking and processing information,” Jackson said. “It’s a way of life — a way of being in a world that’s generous, empathic, and caring. Art is a way to hold space for attention.”

Jackson finds motivation for pursuing art through the means of “slowness,” a term he uses to describe how art is one of the few things you can do that forces you to slow down and really look at things. Curiosity is also a motivator for a lot of his work. For Jackson, art acts as a reminder to not take anything for granted.

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With a plethora of pieces ranging from oil on canvas to acrylic on panel, Jackson has a deep-rooted love for each piece he has created. There is not one piece he can pinpoint to be his favorite.

“Everything that I’ve made has taught me something different,” Jackson said. “I am most excited about whichever piece is most recent because everything is informed by the piece prior.”

Jackson’s inspiration for his elaborate and eye-catching art stems from a framework of using narrative and fiction to unlearn certain conventions questioning them and touching on anything he finds interesting. He describes the practice of painting as a container for a lot of questions he has. His drive and inspiration emanate from this idea of slowness and how to make things that allow us to delve into mystery and uncertainty.

Dedicated to the spaces his paintings create, Jackson alludes to the idea of what it means to stand in front of something. His art creates a space for contemplation.

Inevitably, challenges and creative blocks are something all artists may be faced with when working. Jackson believes a lot of things have been challenges for him, but the biggest obstacle is how to negotiate the status of artwork as a commodity and as a learning tool.

“How do you deal with this thing that is viewed as an object up against the politics of the work?” Jackson said.

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He thinks of making work as a political and critical intervention and ponders what is going to happen to his work when they leave him. He hopes his work can remain a space of critical thought for others. 

At the same time, Jackson knows he has no control over what people learn from his art. There is an indeterminate outcome of who will look at his work and where they will find it. Jackson simply hopes his art will allow others to feel something or think about something in a way that is different than before. He would like his art to bring others into another space — to suspend disbelief about things the viewer cannot see.

As a UW alum and someone who attended colloquiums as an undergraduate student, Jackson is very excited to make his way back on campus as a visiting artist himself. This event is an opportunity for other students to hear about Jackson’s process and ideas, but also his practice in general. He plans to discuss how his life looks as an artist and how he spent his time as a student at UW. It is a moment for all art students to feel engaged with their community.

“It’s nice to be invited back for the colloquium, not everyone is invited back to speak,” Jackson said. “The time and space of the art program meant so much to me. A lot of professors that I had are going to be there.”

Along with the colloquium, Jackson will also have the chance to meet one-on-one with graduate students pursuing art and pose critical questions and ideas to them. These studio visits will take place before and after the colloquium and give students a moment of sincere and deliberate conversation with Jackson.

The Visiting Arts Colloquium is free and open to the public with a Zoom link available online. Jackson will speak at the Elvehjem Building in room L160 Feb. 28 from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

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