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Preston Jackson

Sculptor, art educator and gallery owner Preston Eugene Jackson was born on March 1, 1944 in Decatur, Illinois. The son of Shirley Armstrong Jackson and foundry worker, T.J. Jackson, he grew up in Decatur where he began drawing at the age of seven. Jackson attended Oakland Elementary School and Stephen Decatur High School, where he ran the one hundred yard dash in 9.7 seconds. Graduating in 1962, he attended Millikin University while working at Revere Copper. In 1967, Jackson enrolled in Southern Illinois University where he earned his B.A. degree while playing jazz guitar with his group, Preston Jackson and the Rhythm Aces. Jackson, mentored by Marvin Klavin, obtained his M.F.A. degree from the University of Illinois in 1972.

From 1971 to 1972, Jackson served as an instructor of drawing and painting at Decatur’s Millikin University. He was professor of art at Western Illinois University from 1972 to 1989. Jackson joined the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1989 as professor of sculpture and head of the Figurative Area. Appointed chair of the Sculpture Department in 1994, Jackson served in that capacity until 1996. Since 1995, Jackson has served as owner of The Raven Gallery, home of the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria, Illinois.

As an artist, Jackson specializes in bronze and steel sculpture and painting. Best known for his work with bronze castings, Jackson has also created two-dimensional pieces and large monuments. Jackson is recipient of five state public art commissions through the state’s Capital Development Board. His works include a life size bronze Jean Baptiste Point du Sable in Peoria; bronze façade and doors for the Cahokia Mounds Museum; a Martin Luther King memorial bust for Danville, Illinois; “Let’s Play Two,” a bronze relief of Ernie Banks for ESPN Zone in Chicago; “Dr. Dan,” a bronze bust of surgeon Dr. Daniel Hale Williams for Northwestern University and a cast bronze sculpture of Irv Kupcinet for the City of Chicago. Jackson’s major exhibitions and shows include: “Duo Exhibit,” 1995, in Rockford and “Bronzeville to Harlem,” shown since 1997 in nine different cities. Inspired by African American oral tradition, Jackson created the exhibit, “Fresh from Julieanne’s Garden” which has been exhibited since 2004 in Chicago, Peoria, Madison, Wisconsin and other cities. Jackson’s lectures and workshops have been presented at Oklahoma City, Chicago, St. Louis, Jackson, Mississippi, Decatur and Bloomington, Illinois. His work has been displayed across the United States in exhibitions, and he was named the 1998 Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Currently, he serves as a professor of sculpture and the head of the figurative area at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is owner of the Raven Gallery, home to the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria. Jackson is the sculptor of The HistoryMakers bronze award statuettes.

Accession Number

A2006.168

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/13/2006

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Stephen Decatur High School

Oakland Elementary School

Southern Illinois University

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Millikin University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Preston

Birth City, State, Country

Decatur

HM ID

JAC21

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - 0 - $500

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Isobel Neal

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Huh.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/1/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Thai Food, Seafood

Short Description

Sculptor Preston Jackson (1944 - ) specialized in bronze and steel sculpture and painting. He taught at many universities, most recently as a professor of sculpture and the head of the figurative area at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago. Jackson also owned The Raven Gallery, home to the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria, Illinois.

Employment

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Bradley University

Contemporary Art Center of Peoria

Western Illinois University

Millikin University

Caterpillar Inc.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Medium Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Preston Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Preston Jackson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Preston Jackson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Preston Jackson describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Preston Jackson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Preston Jackson describes his paternal family's recollections of slavery

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Preston Jackson talks about his parents' move to Decatur, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Preston Jackson talks about sundown cities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Preston Jackson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Preston Jackson describes his childhood neighborhood in Decatur, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Preston Jackson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Preston Jackson talks about his dyslexia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Preston Jackson remembers Oakland School in Decatur, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Preston Jackson describes his experiences at Decatur's Oakland School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Preston Jackson describes his early interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Preston Jackson describes his family's religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Preston Jackson recalls his activities at Stephen Decatur High School

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Preston Jackson describes his decision to attend Millikin University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Preston Jackson describes his experiences at Millikin University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Preston Jackson describes his experiences at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Preston Jackson reflects upon his college experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Preston Jackson remembers Charles Koen and Leon Thomas

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Preston Jackson describes his musical career in southern Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Preston Jackson recalls his decision to obtain an M.F.A. degree

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Preston Jackson remembers the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Preston Jackson recalls the political climate of the 1960s in Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Preston Jackson recalls graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Preston Jackson recalls his influences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Preston Jackson describes his transition from painting to sculpture

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Preston Jackson describes Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Preston Jackson remembers early exhibitions of his artwork

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Preston Jackson describes his philosophy of art

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Preston Jackson describes his work, 'Fresh from Julieanne's Garden'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Preston Jackson describes two of his commissioned sculptures

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Preston Jackson describes his sculpture, 'A Masquerade'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Preston Jackson reflects upon the state of the art world for artists of color

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Preston Jackson reflects upon the changing art world of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Preston Jackson shares advice for young artists

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Preston Jackson describes his sculpture for Chicago's McCormick Place

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Preston Jackson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Preston Jackson reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Preston Jackson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Preston Jackson describes his family

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Preston Jackson talks about practicing taekkyeon

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Preston Jackson describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

3$7

DATitle
Preston Jackson describes his childhood neighborhood in Decatur, Illinois
Preston Jackson describes his work, 'Fresh from Julieanne's Garden'
Transcript
What was some of the, what was your neighborhood like, were you in the country sort of like or semi country?$$Oh no, no, we were in the city [Decatur, Illinois].$$In the city.$$Yeah beautiful area of town, it was a mixed neighborhood. We had Germans on one end and well a little later on there was one Japanese kid and it was a mixed neighborhood, yeah. We really didn't know anything about a neighborhood that was all black, but we understood that the majority was black. And we understood what we all had in common, it was only 'til we went to school that it, it really dawned on us that we were different. You know kindergarten, that we were different and the jokes you know from slapstick stuff. The old vaudeville stuff from movies and, then it really sunk in and that was how we treated each other. What was funny and what was laughable you know and, and all of the humor that came out of being black and the cartoons, especially Disney [The Walt Disney Company] cartoons. And, and the guy [E.C. Segar] that did Popeye and Betty Boop you know, different cartoonist, but comic books especially Al Capp was very hard on, on black culture. Yeah, yeah it and so it crept, consciousness crept into our minds, and the irony of it all, most of it we saw as funny, until we reached an age whereas we had to be bus boys and we were treated different. And we begin to note that there were eating establishments that we could not go into.$Well can you describe some of the highlights in your career and some of the pieces you've cre- created and you know give us some stories behind some of those pieces. I know we don't have them in front of us but, if you can just give us a brief kind, and we will show some at one point (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) I hope so right. Well the highest light, the brightest light would be what I'm doing now, 'Fresh from Julieanne's Garden,' you know.$$Now Julieanne was one of your relatives?$$Yeah my great-great grandmother you know.$$Okay.$$Yeah, Julie, 'Fresh from Julieanne's Garden,' this, I had an exhibit at the Cultural Center [Chicago Cultural Center] here in Chicago [Illinois] and now the exhibit is traveling, the pieces are traveling. It was a very successful show in many ways, one is that I got my point across, two I was able to tell my history, our history. And three, it you know, I, I started getting some pretty lucrative commissions from that, from that showing you know. So you know this is, this is the height, these are high times in my career, in the, I see future things. I feel very positive about future things happening you know, only thing that I'm very pessimistic about is pessimistic about is the fact that we always seem to find ourselves in wars. We, I mean if one war situation is over, we'll find another one you know, and I'm not saying we, but it happens all over the world. Some kind of conflict happens when our young people have to go off and get their bodies torn to pieces you know. So I do have this thing in the back of my mind if these situations aren't positive, then my life isn't you know. I mean I, I can't be fully happy or comfortable when those things are going on you know. Crime situation you know, and the direction parts of pop culture has turned you know and, and the results of it.