Opening: Stefanie Jackson "Pastime Paradise" Exhibition Richard Beavers Gallery | New York, NY
About this Event Stefanie Jackson "Pastime Paradise" Opening | Saturday, November 5, 2022 | 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
“Pastime Paradise” is a song by Stevie Wonder from the 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. The lyrics allude to living in a pastime paradise, where they’ve been wasting most of their days, then contrasts that with living in a future paradise, “looking in their minds for the day that sorrow’s gone from time.” What a profound sentiment, created by one of our greatest American songwriters. I want my paintings to be a reflection of our humanity and the myriad complexities of our stories.
When I paint, I remember the past, envisioning the beauty and terror my people have endured. I see my work as an extension of the Blues, imagining the joy and the sorrow displayed for all to see. This collection of paintings represents a sampling of three different series, created over a decade. The Black Orpheus, Soul Brother series is inspired by Detroit and the Brazilian film Orfeu Negro (1959). I set the Greek myth in Detroit, and each painting’s title is taken from Songs in the Key of Life. I left Detroit in 1976 to come to New York, leaving my heart and soul twisted.
The paintings, and any symbolism suggested within, function as a metaphor for the chaos and unpredictable elements of modern life. Summertime and the Living is Easy depicts a time and space that never fully existed for African Americans in the South of the thirties. What amazing grace these people from the diaspora created, spaces for joy and love and dignity. I relate that coming together through joy and pain to communities that have welcomed me in Detroit, New Orleans, Harlem, and Atlanta. I have witnessed and seek to transcribe a version of life where we were/are loved, valued, showed up and out, and continue to “make this world a better place.”
“I’ve been scared and battered. My hopes the wind done scattered. Snow has friz me, sun has baked me. Looks like between ’em They done tried to make me Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’— But I don’t care! I’m still here!” — Langston Hughes, “Still Here"