Jackson Odell Martin was born and raised on a hippie commune in rural Tennessee. At age 8 he moved to Nashville with his family, where he graduated from Hume Fogg Academic High School in 1997. Martin spent several years walking, hitchhiking and trainhopping around the US before finally earning his BFA from Middle Tennessee State University in 2004. He then moved to Baltimore, MD to attend the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art, earning his MFA in 2007. Martin regularly exhibits his sculptural projects on a regional, national and international level. Venues include Sculpture by the Sea, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Cameron Art Museum and Pratt Institute Sculpture Park. He has taught at several institutions, including East Tennessee State University, the College of Charleston, Redux Contemporary Art Center, Penland School of Crafts and Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts. Martin lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and daughter, where he is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina.
Over the years my artwork has evolved into an interdisciplinary approach to sculpture, installation and photography. I combine and intertwine these concentrations in order to create dynamic experiences for my viewer. I regularly take walks with my camera, composing my reality and gaining inspiration in the process. I invariably gravitate towards environments where nature is reclaiming industry. My installation projects portray this complex relationship, constructing industrial containers to hold and embrace unaltered natural materials. These fabricated environments affirm the absolute power and everlasting resilience of the natural world.
During my walks, I am attracted to ordinary and discarded objects, as well. My sculptures arise from a need to rescue these abandoned symbols and then reorganize their components into new, engaging combinations. Often, I will circle back and compose photographs of the new hand-made objects, involving them in manipulated situations that aid in subverting their original context. With my most recent body of sculptural work, I am honoring and showing respect for the industrial proletariat. The working class, the blue-collar, the manual laborer, the skilled laborer, the tradesperson and the craftsperson who are always hard at work, building and maintaining the infrastructure of this country.
I am also continually exploring the line between what is considered masculine and feminine, searching for new ways that my work can collapse traditional American male and traditional American female roles. In addition, this country has long since become a melting pot of cultures from around the world and I wholeheartedly embrace the potential for a harmonious heterogeneous society. Ultimately my artwork remains both autobiographical and visionary, proposing that individuals can be all-purpose; simultaneously embracing their history, culture, race and gender, while respecting and participating in that of the people around them.