Asa Jackson

by Shannon Bowman

Asa Jackson - Portrait of an Outsider

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Faces.  They are the common thread that runs through the work of artist Asa Jackson.

"I've been drawing faces since I was 6 or 7," says Jaskcon.  "We all have faces, and, as humans, that's the most recognizable part of us."

For Jackson, in art and in life, faces represent more than just physical appearance. They are a reflection of people's feelings and spirituality, he said.

"Faces are like mirrors," he said.

Jackson began drawing when he was a child and drew inspiration from his brother, mother and grandfather, all of whom enjoyed the visual arts. He remembers African masks hanging in his home when he was young, and the memories of those masks influence his work to this day.  He tells the story of visiting The Rodin with his grandfather and instructed to pick out his favorite piece, which was the Naked Balzac.  Once home, his grandfather would have him sketch the art that he saw.

"I was kind of just surrounded by art," he said.

Jackson sold his first painting his senior year in high school, and he quickly realized that painting was a passion he would pursue indefinitely.

"I realized this is what I'd like to do more than anything else."

From the history of ancient kings to quantum physics and string theory, Jackson doesn't restrict himself in the thematic content of his pieces, many of which are a blend of different types of paint on canvas. He often spends hours researching topics that might play a role in his work, but once he begins painting, the process is very much an emotional one, he said.

"Usually I don't think ahead of time," he said, adding that he has completed at least one painting in as few as 15 minutes. "The story will kind of unravel itself to me. I'm enjoying myself. And I'm always trying to push myself."