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Nancy Jackson
Maplewood, NJ, USA


Artist Statement

I have always been interested in the mysterious. Because of this, I am naturally drawn to the study of dreams and enjoy trying to understand the symbolic landscape of inner life. For me life has been transformed for the better by work done through dreams and by creativity. In the creative process, I try to closely follow my personal experience, using the information I find there as an inspiration and a guide. Many times anguish has been turned to hope by the appearance of an expressive image that can be made and brought into the world.

Mysteries Unfolding

Biographical Essay

As a child I loved art and making things. I particularly liked sitting under the dining room table with my crayons and watercolors. Throughout my youth in Chicago, I studied all things art: painting, jewelry-making, life drawing, ceramics. When it came time for college, I enrolled in Carnegie Mellon School of Fine Arts but left after a few months. I found art school too restrictive and competitive, at least as it was then. Also, I had many interests besides art and did not like identifying as an “artist”. I preferred to think of myself as a curious seeker who happened to make things. I transferred to Oberlin College with the unusual ambition of becoming an ambassador to China. I soon moved back to art however!

In 1998, I was living in Los Angeles pursuing a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology when I was required to get myself into therapy for six months minimum. The Jung Institute of Los Angeles was nearby, and I had the good fortune to enter analysis with Jungian Analyst Jean Flannigan. Thus began an extraordinary and pivotal 15-year education and journey.

One of the first major issues we came to in our work was whether or not I should continue my efforts of becoming a therapist. I was experiencing deep doubts and anxiety about committing myself more and more to that work. Through dreams and our discussions, I began to see that I was repeating a pattern. Earlier I had started a Master’s Degree in Social Work before quitting for similar reasons. I had later earned a Master’s Degree in Education to become a teacher and then decided not to pursue that career. In each case, I had become afraid that my inner creative life would be virtually ended by the weight of responsibility and demands that each field required of me. Now I was experiencing the same thing again with psychology. Together we asked “What am I afraid of?”. I had spent many years studying, and spent a lot of money, only to find myself unable or unwilling continue on to professional life. Through it all, we continued to ask “What do the dreams say?” and to follow what was shown.

The answer changed my life and saved my life. It was that my true calling was to be an artist. Through the years, and although it seems obvious in retrospect, I had never felt I could choose art as my vocation. Now, I embraced my art life. I changed direction and started a business doing interior decorative painting, a job that I could ‘leave at the office’ so to speak, and the scheduling of which I could control. In this embrace of my art, I experienced the old idea that “having chosen, one is chosen”. The art world opened to me, and I found a place in it. At 45, I suddenly saw my life as a long effort to get to my artist self - and had now finally arrived. In a way, now the REAL work began - now the work of SOUL.

While these changes were afoot, I experienced the ebb and flow of creative and non-creative times, excitement and discouragement, energy and exhaustion. One day, feeling lost and bored, I was reading Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and making notes on a small piece of paper as I found especially interesting sentences. Some months later, I again opened the book and rediscovered my notes. Reading them anew, I imagined that they loosely told a story. That inspired me to start working on twelve paintings about enlightenment. This project, titled The Dreamer, occupied me for over a year. It developed further when my husband Adam Rudolph, a composer, wrote music to accompany each of the images, creating an opera.

In my experience, the study and exploration of seemingly unrelated things can sometimes emerge as beacons in the creative process. Works of art can sprout from places that at first seem as dry as a desert and as remote from the studio table as the next galaxy.   

To see more of my work, including sculptures, needlecraft and other media, please go to www.nancy-jackson.com.

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The Jung Society of Washington is a nonprofit educational institution. Although many of the Jung Society's programs involve analytical psychology and allied subjects, these offerings are intended, and should be viewed, as a source of information and education, and not as therapy. The Jung Society does not offer psychoanalytical or other mental health services.
Images of mandalas throughout this site were created by Carl Jung's patients between the years 1926 and 1945.
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