October 24, 2023
Ethereal sheets of tulle appear to hover in spectral motion over meadows and in copses of trees in Thomas Jackson’s latest photographs. “If there’s a theme I’m focused on this year, it’s the relationship between the materials I use to make my installations and the landscapes they inhabit,” he tells Colossal. Each ephemeral installation (previously) responds to the surrounding environment, changing shape as it interacts with the wind. Often documented during the golden hour, the layers of thin fabric shift to become more or less opaque, overlapping into various color combinations in the light.
Recently, Jackson has begun to work with silk and continues to incorporate other everyday materials into his pieces, like plastic cups or aluminum trays. This past summer, he and a team of 60 volunteers coordinated the installation of “Collaborative Nature,” a public art project in a park in Tiburon, California, consisting of about 800 fabric “puffs” that responded to the wind, stuck into the ground with thin fiberglass stakes.
Jackson focuses on sustainability, taking a “leave no trace” approach to dismantling the installations when they are complete and recycling the materials into new projects. He says:
It would not be incorrect to say that I make art about nature with materials that represent a threat to nature itself. It’s contradictory, I know, and to a large degree, that’s the point. In fact, I think we’re all grappling with a similar contradiction in our daily lives. We revere nature and want to preserve it (most of us at least), but we also want to enjoy the comforts and conveniences of our petroleum-based, industrial economy. I want my work to exist in the space between those two incompatible desires. At the same time, I want viewers to consider what a sustainable equilibrium between ourselves and the natural world might look like.
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