Past Talks & More | Artist Talks

Tomashi Jackson in conversation with Nia K. Evans, Prentiss Haney, Lisa Owens, and Marshall Shorts

I Want to Be Free

Moderated by Dionne Custer Edwards


Don’t miss an insightful postelection dialogue with this group of artists, activists, organizers, scholars, and change-makers.

Multidisciplinary artist Tomashi Jackson (whose work is currently on view in our galleries in Love Rollercoaster) joins Nia K. Evans, Director of Boston Ujima Project; Prentiss Haney, Co-Executive Director of Ohio Organizing Collaborative; Lisa Owens, Executive Director of City Life/Vida Urbana; and Marshall Shorts, Principal of Artfluential, for a lively conversation and Q&A moderated by Wex Director of Learning and Public Practice Dionne Custer Edwards.

This timely dialogue will dive into a host of pressing issues, centering narratives of Black identity, art and making, democracy, politics, activism, labor, liberation, history, healing, and joy.

Diversities in Practice
A new collaboration with Ohio State’s Wexner Center for the Arts, Department of Art, and Living Culture Initiative, this series will include talks and moderated discussions that feature artists engaged in social justice–oriented projects and practices. Working in varied media, Christine Sun Kim, Stephanie Syjuco, and others will challenge our assumptions by taking a complex, and sometimes personal look at issues of accessibility discrimination, race-based displacement, capitalism, labor, and systems of authority and authenticity. These presentations will be available to view online throughout 2020–21 as well as options to watch with a small ticketed audience at the Wex. Check this site for updates and details.

A collage painting in vibrant colors. Tactile vinyl strips and paper bag handles hang off the painting.

Tomashi Jackson, I Want To Be Free (O-H-I-O)(Bad Bargain)(2012 Cuyahoga County Voting Line)(2016 Butler County Voting Line), 2020. Acrylic, Pentelic marble, Ohio Underground Railroad site soil, American electoral ephemera, and paper bags on canvas and fabric. 88 1/4 x 84 1/2 x 8 in. Courtesy of the artist and Tilton Gallery, New York.

Artist Tomashi Jackson is seated in front of two of her collage paintings

Tomashi Jackson in front of Is Anybody Gonna Be Saved? (1948 Middle of Voter Registration Line) (1965 Abernathy and King Watch the Signing of the Act), 2020, and Contradiction (1948 Head of Voter Registration Line) (1965 Clarence Mitchell, Patricia Roberts Harris, and Others Watch the Signing of the Act), 2020. Photographer: Joshi Radin Flores.

About the speakers

Tomashi Jackson chevron-down chevron-up

Tomashi Jackson identifies as a painter and printmaker, yet her works are often three-dimensional, made up of layers of paper, textiles, plastics, embroidery, prints, photo transfers, wood armatures, and more—all of which revolve around tight, ethically driven humanist narratives and research. Her research-laden pieces connect history and archives with the current moment. Recently, she’s addressed the displacement and disenfranchisement of Black and brown communities; previously, her works examined segregation in the US. A standout artist of the 2019 Whitney Biennial, her works are in the collections of major institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Jackson is featured in The Artsy Vanguard 2020.

Nia K. Evans chevron-down chevron-up

Nia K. Evans is the Director of the Boston Ujima Project. Her educational background is in the areas of labor relations, education leadership, and policy. Her advocacy includes a focus on eliminating barriers between analysts and people with lived experiences, as well as increasing acknowledgement of the value of diverse types of expertise in policy. She is a cocreator of Frames Debate Project, a multimedia policy debate project that explores the intersection between drug policy, mental health services, and incarceration in the state of Massachusetts. Ms. Evans has a BS in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Master of Arts in Education Leadership, with a course of study in Leadership, Policy, and Politics from Teachers College at Columbia University. She also studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she focused on International Labor Relations.

Prentiss Haney chevron-down chevron-up

Prentiss Haney is a community organizer, artist, and the co-executive Director at Ohio Organizing Collaborative, an innovative statewide organization that unites community organizing groups, labor unions, faith organizations, and policy institutes to build a transformative base of power to achieve social, racial, and economic justice in Ohio. Haney started with Organizing for America, registering students and building campus teams across the state. He then joined Ohio Student Association to continue building student power, serving in various capacities from training coordinator to regional team lead, communication director, and more. He has trained hundreds of young leaders in grassroots organizing and led racial justice and higher education campaigns across the state. Haney has a BA in Urban Affairs, Wright State University, and currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Lisa Owens chevron-down chevron-up

Lisa Owens is the Executive Director of the housing justice organization City Life/Vida Urbana, which builds the power and leadership of working-class communities, particularly communities of color, to work for social, racial, economic, and gender justice. Their work is to stop the displacement of working-class communities through “the sword” (community organizing and public pressure), “the shield” (coordinated legal defense), and "the offer" (community ownership of land and housing). At City Life, she actively fights for bold tenant protection policies and the expansion of antidisplacement community land trusts in Massachusetts. Owens has been actively involved in building grassroots organizations and supporting emerging leaders for over 25 years. A seasoned popular educator, she also teaches courses on structural racism, social welfare policy, participatory action research, and leading social justice nonprofit organizations. She serves on the boards of several organizations connected to community control of land and housing.

Marshall Shorts chevron-down chevron-up

Marshall Shorts is a creative director and designer in Columbus, Ohio, by way of Cleveland. He is the founder of Artfluential (formerly Soulo Theory Creative), a design consultancy that brings culturally informed creative direction, strategy, and design to small businesses, agencies, and creatives. He’s also a cofounder of Creative Control Fest, an annual conference and platform that centers creatives of color and advocates for diversity within the creative class. As an adjunct professor at his alma mater, Columbus College of Art and Design, Shorts’s passion for design is only rivaled by his commitment to being a community resource and advocate for artists, students, and Black entrepreneurs.

Cosponsored by the Wexner Center for the Arts and Ohio State's Department of Art's Visiting Artist Program.

American Electric Power Foundation
Greater Columbus Arts Council
L Brands Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Ohio Arts Council
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Huntington Bank
Nationwide Foundation

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Kaufman Development
Cardinal Health Foundation


Past Talks & More

Tomashi Jackson in conversation with Nia K. Evans, Prentiss Haney, Lisa Owens, and Marshall Shorts