Mary Jackson honored by American Craft Council
Mary Jackson is among the foremost of #SCartists, and late last week in Minneapolis the American Craft Council added to her impressive resume by inducting her to its College of Fellows – placing her firmly at the top of her field.
Candidates for this prestigious honor are nominated and elected by their peers. To be eligible, individuals must demonstrate extraordinary ability and must have worked for 25 years or more in the discipline or career in which they are recognized. The Charleston-based basketmaker uses sweetgrass in the West African (and later, Gullah) tradition for her art, which had already garnered her exclusive recognition.
In 2008 she received a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and in 2011 the S.C. Arts Commission presented her with the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts for Lifetime Achievement. In 2016, the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston named a gallery for her.
Jackson began making baskets under her grandmother’s tutelage at age 4, working alongside other members of her family to uphold a multi-generational tradition that extends back to their ancestral heritage in West Africa.
“The results of a basket are the thing that keeps you coming back again,” she said. “You’ve created something so beautiful, then the whole world loves what you’re doing … that’s the inspiration.”