Matthew Day Jackson

Tomb of the Unknown 2005
Carved, scorched and wood-burned scrap wood, broken
skateboard, Sculpey, coloured pencil, wood l-beam supports
243.8cm x 243.8cm x 243.8cm
96 x 96 x 96

Matthew Day Jackson

Born Panorama City, California 1974
Lives and works in New York

The work of Matthew Day Jackson investigates the history of the United States. Working primarily in large-scale structures and drawing, Matthew Day Jackson is part of a new generation of artists who are explicit about reclaiming their past by highlighting often gruesome parts of American history such as the Civil War, American Expansionism and Jingoism. Matthew Day Jackson’s recurring motifs include the turkey vulture, Eleanor Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, Native American imagery and iconography found in the Civil Rights Movement. Matthew Day Jackson uses this imagery as a way of emphasising the fragility and power found in nature. The turkey vulture represents both a bird of creation and decay, symbolising the renewal and death that occurs in the ecosystem. This bird is majestic and strong but unable to kill because of its weak beak and talons. Native American Cherokees called the turkey vulture a ‘peace eagle’ because of its physical attributes. In his sculpture Tomb of the Unknown 2005 a turkey vulture surmounts a cross of fake wooden I beams raised up on wooden legs some of which have been intricately carved. Characteristic of Matthew Day Jackson’ approach are the tangible effects of craftsmanship. His materials are often laboriously hand carved and incorporate various arts and crafts techniques such as needle point, tooled leather and Sculpy, a type of polymer clay that can be molded and put into a conventional oven to harden. Matthew Day Jackson’s works have been described as narrative fictions. They examine the myths behind American national identity and represent an alternative to conservative accounts of American history.

Source: Perry Rubenstein Gallery and USA Today.