Jackie Milad (Baltimore City, MD) is a Baltimore City-based artist featured in group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally. Select exhibitions include C.Grimaldis Gallery (Baltimore, MD), Harvey B. Gantt Center (Charlotte, NC), Grizzly Grizzly (Philadelphia, PA), Langer Over Dickie (Chicago, IL), Loyola University Maryland (Baltimore, MD), The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD), Arthur Ross Gallery University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA), Museo de Arte de Mazatlan (Mazatlan, MX), and DiFOCUR de Sinaloa Sala de Arte Joven Galleria (Culiacan, MX). Milad is a multi-year recipient of the Individual Artist Grant from Maryland State Arts Council. In 2019 she was named a Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize Finalist and a Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Ruby Grantee. Her work is in the following public collections, GLB Memorial Foundation Collection, The Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University, Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, and Facebook, Inc. Milad received her BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, and her MFA from Towson University.
My abstract works on distressed hand-dyed canvas and paper are made with drawn and painted symbols from imagination and my mixed cultural heritage. By blending what appears to be disparate imagery and language from my Egyptian-Honduran immigrant upbringing, I create a unique world of my own. I intentionally make the surfaces of my pieces appear chaotic with an accumulation of many fragments. Every layer shows a new choice; it’s a record of my decisions, labor, and personal history.
History is a complicated thing; it is almost always told from the perspective of the powerful. An example I consider often while making my work, exists in modern Egypt, where the writing of history is literally on the wall of the ancient tombs built for the powerful pharaohs, turned Coptic monasteries, turned mosques, and finally touristic sites. And for a more contemporary example, I look to the political graffiti and mural culture of Cairo, Egypt, during the uprising of January 25, 2011, documentation of a movement that now lives under years of literal whitewashing by the current government. In my studio, I am writing my own story, and controlling the narrative--never removing layers but instead shifting and always adding more.
Cannibalizing my earlier artworks for collage material or painting over previous marks is purely an act of self-determination. I destroy and reuse previously exhibited works to make room for a regenerative and intuitive process that never ends. Artworks that were once static and put away into my archive, become repurposed and responsive in real-time. Finally, I think a lot about how works of art are read once they leave the studio. There is a general expectation that the work will be broken down into basic and understandable codes, whether by the artist themselves a writer or by a curator. I challenge this expectation by stacking meaning, mixing up multiple signals, codes, and even languages. I rarely give it away. I want people to understand and accept that not everything must be explained.