Roxanne Jackson: Body as a Vessel

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On a Wednesday afternoon, I wandered around the Lower East Side of New York visiting galleries in the cold weather. I had seen pictures of the exhibition floating on Instagram and I cannot wait to see it with my own eyes. The gallery is divided into two sections featuring three artists in the current show. As I stepped into the Hole, wearing a navy blue vintage Acne Studio coat and with last season’s Loewe Puzzle bag, I see this large furry face emoji looking sculpture by Japanese artist Misaki Kawai. In a room further inside the gallery was the joint show by Roxanne Jackson and her good friend Caroline Larsen.

Roxanne Jackson: Body as a Vessel
Photo taken at Plop Resideny in Oli Epp’s studio, London, UK (August 2019)

The room, with bright green walls, is filled with paintings by Larsen and vases by Jackson, with a common design of floral patterns that combine themes from the East and the West. I could not stop looking at the pots. As I grew up with Chinese porcelain in the house, I was fascinated with Jackson’s playful interpretation of the reinvented porcelain clay pots. 

I am very honored to connect and speak with Roxanne Jackson after I have seen the show. Jackson is a renowned sculptor who’s works have been shown in galleries and museums around the world and are currently showing at The Hole in NYC. Jackson’s vases in the show are inspired by 15th century porcelain from both China and Europe.

Roxanne Jackson: Body as a Vessel
Cassandra (Lips Vase ll) (View 1) 2020; Media: Ceramic, glaze, luster; 18.5 x 9.5 inches

In the late 16th-early 17th century, Chinese porcelain was introduced to the European market and immediately generated a high demand. Europeans started imitating and recreating porcelains from the body of the clay to the pattern on the vases. At first the Europeans could not quite figure out the exact formula was used in creating porcelain, until they discovered Kaolin as the secret ingredient. So for a period of time Europeans are creating “clay” pots that look like porcelain. Jackson uses the same method that Europeans used for her vase pieces to recreate the 16 century European Chinese vases with her own twist. 

Roxanne Jackson: Body as a Vessel
Tattooed Vase (View 1) 2020; Media: Ceramic, glaze, luster, chain; 17 x 8 inches

The core theme when creating these vases is ‘What does a 21st Century vase look like?’. “The vases are accessible and comforting, as people are very familiar with the shapes and idea of accent porcelain that they have seen in the museums, books and on the internet.”, said Jackson. “The internet flattens time”, continued Jackson.

Roxanne Jackson: Body as a Vessel
Cassandra (Lips Vase ll) (Detail 1)

Nowadays, people can Google anything on the internet and view vases from the 16th century made in China and Europe in present time.

Jackson is giving an old concept a new interpretation by adding pop culture elements on traditional looking vases, including emoji-looking lips, tongues sticking out of the mouth, piercings and other symbols that represents our current society.

Roxanne Jackson: Body as a Vessel
Installation view at The Hole NYC

Jackson sees the vessel as the human body, and the pattern on the vases are just like tattoos inked on our skin. Jackson gives the vases a whole new meaning that is suitable to today’s time and the society that we are living in right now. The show is going until Valentine’s day and for all of those who are able to see the show in person I highly recommend it.

©2021 Roxanne Jackson