by Frances Grant, Yellow House Fellow
There is something very precious and sacred about the photographs taken by Malcolm Jackson. Each image represents a kind of downtime that while fleeting and transient resonates as a moment of levity within a closely bonded community. Black American Southern communities are the focus of Jackson’s lens and he draws out the most essential elements of these groups as a space of safety and well-being.
These moments of unguardedness are indicative of placemaking that occurs within marginalized communities. Communities that are disenfranchised and fractured by oppressive institutional systems of power require spaces that allow for relaxation and camaraderie among peers. Throughout each image, there is a clear support network of people who keep their friends, family, and colleagues afloat whether during crisis or during the usual monotony of life.
“This collection of work showcases the power of community and fellowship,” wrote the artist. “The works are displayed on butcher paper, resembling the World Famous brown wrapping paper from Jenkin’s BBQ. These works take place both in Springfield and in Ken Knight during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. No matter how bad the situation may look around you, joy always finds a way.”
In the instances of reprieve that Jackson skillfully captures, the grayscale tone of each occasion implies a feeling of nostalgia and timelessness yet all the while each photograph is solidly fixed in the present. Currently, these images of humanity do not represent a begone era of displaced peoples, but instead celebrate thriving, intact societies.