Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.
Bio: Jackie Milad, 46, Baltimore (@_jackie_milad_)
Title of Work: A Planet Breaks Open (2022).
Where to see it: A solo exhibition at SOCO Gallery (421 Providence Road, Charlotte, NC), March 8 through April 19, 2023.
Three words to describe it: Generative, melting, explosive.
What was on your mind at the time: Clementina Suarez, an avant-garde feminist poet who wrote “a planet breaks open between my fingers” in her poem, “Growing with the Grass/Creciendo con la Hierba.” I really wanted the work to feel like birthing, a recent theme in my practice.
An interesting feature that is not immediately noticeable: My 11-year-old son Piero’s drawings are interwoven into most of my pieces.
How it reflects your practice as a whole: I am a first-generation Honduran-Egyptian-American. My work explores the layering of transcultural history in Central America and the Middle East. I link the universal topic of cultural layering and documentation with my own multicultural identity by blending and packing in what appears to be disparate imagery, icons, and language (graffiti, rap lyrics, popular slang, etc). My layered compositions mimic not only my own upbringing but also symbolize the way cultures are recorded and monumentalized in remaining fragments over time. I aim to obfuscate the meaning of my textiles to prevent a single reading of the work, hoping this embraces the complexity of the piece and its analogy to global history.
I also excavate my earlier artworks and splice them into new pieces, in a purposefully confusing and chaotic manner. Artworks that were once static and stored away become repurposed and responsive in dynamic compositions.
Created specifically for the Armory Show, A Planet Breaks Open was influenced by the online collections of Honduran and Egyptian artifacts at the British Museum, The MET Museum, and art history textbooks. Dedicated to Clementina Suarez, it symbolically takes the artifacts back, repurposing and incorporating them into my own history and narrative.
One song that captures its essence: “Shakl Tany” by Mohamed Abel Wahab.