Jackie Mitchell Edwards

I am a multidisciplinary artist who lives in the foothills of the Organ Mountains in Southern New Mexico. My work is mostly abstract, and includes painting, collage, assemblage and small sculptural objects.

I am a woman of the African Diaspora, inspired by nature, landscape and place, by earth-energy and spirit. I collect memories of place, including the internal landscape of the spirit and I paint and create abstractly. I believe in the interconnectedness of all things in nature. I use shapes and colors from the land and nature, textures from the clouds, and gestures that mimic marks on the earth, to explore my notion of home and place. I collect items that hold meaning for me for use in my process - crystals and minerals, bones, shells, wood and roots and other fragments and found objects. I draw, paint, collage, take photos and write. I gather all these things in my studio and I begin to “cook” them - adding shapes, colors and layers, removing them - scratching and scraping through layers to reveal what is hidden. I rearrange elements, relate them to one another, edit them, deconstruct them and meditate on them. In my art, with my language of abstraction, I try to invoke a memory of place, or of an experience, or a remembered ritual, in order to create a home- an ancestral space, that is a healing space. In fact, my practice is a series of rituals and meditations.

As a Black woman in America, I am part of the African Diaspora, which most commonly refers to the descendants of the West and Central Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas via the Atlantic slave trade between the 16th and 19th centuries. We are familiar with the narrative that, we, in the African Diaspora, were ripped from our homelands and suffered under brutal conditions, including the trans-Atlantic Middle passage, slavery, segregation and continuing racism. We are constantly told that we are from elsewhere and nowhere- that we are dispossessed, even though we have deeper roots in America than most European immigrants.

My artwork springs from a counter narrative.  It is the story about the strength, beauty, resilience and spiritual transcendence that has been accreted, developed, accumulated and passed down through generations across the African Diaspora. Rituals form the basis of belief and belonging and provide reverence for the healing power that supports that store of strength, beauty, resilience and spiritual transcendence alive today in the African Diaspora. My connection to that strength and to memories of landscape, sacred nature and beauty have allowed me to process negative energies into transformational beauty through my artwork. So, I carry my ancestral home with me, and access it and share it, through my work.