Photographer Zig Jackson receives 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship
Zig Jackson, an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation), is the first Native American photographer to receive a prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in photography.
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation based in New York City announced this year’s fellowships last week.
Jackson was among 184 artists, writers, scholars, and scientists from across the U.S. and two Canadian provinces to receive a fellowship. Those selected were chosen through a rigorous peer-review process from almost 3,000 applicants, according to foundation information. Created in 1925 by Sen. Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son John Simon Guggenheim, the foundation has offered fellowships to exceptional individuals in pursuit of scholarship in any field of knowledge and creation in any art form.
“Being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship is a powerful achievement in my field,” said Jackson.
As part of the Fellowship, he will be doing a book of photographs.
Jackson grew up in New Town on the Fort Berthold Reservation. As a product of the U.S. government boarding school system, he was taken from his home at the age of eight and put into St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota, ultimately graduating from Intermountain Indian School in Utah.
Jackson’s work focuses on the changing way of life of both urban and reservation Indians, along with the attendant socio-political issues of Native American culture.
Currently a professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia, Jackson was the first Native American to receive a master of fine arts in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. He also holds a bachelor of science degree in education from Northeastern Oklahoma State University in Tahlequah.
In addition to SCAD, he has taught photography at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), Santa Fe; San Francisco State University; and the University of California, Davis.
Jackson’s work has been shown throughout the U.S. and abroad at sites such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Fraenkel Gallery (San Francisco), the International Center of Photography (New York), the Portland Art Museum, the Joslyn Museum of Art (Omaha), the Cleveland Art Museum, and the High Museum (Atlanta), among many others.
His photography is represented in the collections of public and private institutions, including the Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; the Jonson Gallery, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois; the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska; Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio; and the Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia.
Jackson has received a number of distinctions and accolades in his field. His work was featured in Art in America in 2016, and in 2004, he became the first contemporary Native American photographer to be represented in collection of the National Library of Congress (LOC), when it acquired a number of his images. According to the LOC website, “Although there are nearly 18,000 images of native people in the Prints and Photographs Division, this is the first group of contemporary photographs acquired by the Library taken by a Native American.”
Additionally, selected awards and grants include: Presidential Fellowship for Faculty Development, 2010, Savannah College of Art and Design; Beaumont Newhall Award for Photographic Excellence, 2005, New Mexico Humanities Council; National Millennium Survey Grant, 1999, College of Santa Fe, Anne and John Marion Center for Photographic Arts; Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Grant, 1997, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation; and Artist in Residency Fellowship, 1995, Headlands Center for the Arts.
Jackson is the son of Raymond Dancing Bull Jackson and Aletha Parshall Jackson. His grandmother, Ruby Parshall, named him Buffalo Getting up in the Grass (Gid’-paa Gid-a-hish). His other Indian name is Long Ears (Uppa-hush-kis). Several of his siblings and relatives still reside on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
According to Jackson, his mentors were his mother Aletha (quiltmaker), aunts Pansy Hale (quiltmaker and beader), Rose Crow Flies High (quiltmaker and beader) and Delores Sand (quiltmaker, beader and linguist) and uncles Charles Parshall (painter), Guy Fox (painter), Alton White Bear (painter), and all of the tribal people of the reservation “that saw some good in Zig.”
Everywhere Jackson lectures and shows his work, he said, he represents the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation as a proud, proud member.
Milestones is a series that celebrates former area residents for recent notable accomplishments. Nominations can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.