Framing specialist Jackson Roberts discusses the range of experiences working in sculpture, woodworking and framing that he brings to his position at Mana Art Center.
Q: You grew up in Asheville and completed a bachelors of fine arts in sculpture at University of North Carolina in 2007. What kind of projects did you focus on as an art student? Who were some of your influences during your education?
A: As an art major with an emphasis in sculpture, I focused on projects in hand-built ceramics and metal-casting. In the summer of 2003, I studied architectural ceramics with Marcia Selsor at a workshop in Italy. Megan Wolf, a professor at UNC, also had a big impact on the direction of my thesis project, which consisted of ceramic pieces in raw clay that reflected both figurative and geometric forms. During school, I also apprenticed a woodworker in a small shop that specialized in custom mill-work, furniture and cabinetry, and later, I worked in a small frame shop next to the university. After school, I moved to Knoxville, Tenn., to work for Bennett Gallery framing artwork for their exhibitions.
Q: When did you move to New York and what was that transition like for you? Where did you work in the city prior to arriving at Mana Art Center in February 2011?
A: I moved to New York in the summer of 2008. I grew up coming to New York several times a year, but it was a big transition moving from the South to living in a big city in the North. I started working at Bark Frameworks in the art preservation department specializing in fitting and glazing.
Q: Please tell us about some of the significant projects you’ve worked on since you joined Mana’s community. What set of skills do you bring to your position?
A: I’ve worked in the crate shop with Gene Thompson and also on special projects such as Eugene Lemay’s installations. I’ve also gone out on location for clients to help with making decisions about handling, moving, installing and crating pieces. My arts education and various jobs have helped me to develop the abilities to work on a range of projects from customized pieces to high volume framing. I’ve learned to be detail-oriented. I’ve also learned a lot about understanding art – how it should be handled and how it should be presented.
Q: The frame shop is still under construction. What is the vision for the design and function of this space?
A: The framing shop is centrally located on the ground floor near the entrance of the building. It is designed to be an open space with glass walls so production is visible to visitors. The frame shop will have the capability to provide museum quality framing services to Mana’s clients as well as our resident artists.
Q: What kind of changes have you seen at Mana Art Center since you’ve been here?
A: Mana Contemporary is becoming a more inclusive company in terms of the type of services it provides clients from restoration to conservation framing. I’ve also seen a movement at Mana Art Center towards an artistic community through outreach, events and connection to the art world in New York. It’s amazing how quickly things happen here. It’s a constant movement forward that is exciting to be apart of.
– Tema Stauffer