Rock Jackson, rjacksonart, Rodney Jackson

Co-founder/UX Design Lead

Eolian

I understood what career direction I would pursue very early. I was selected to attend a Miami visual art magnet in the fifth grade and instantly knew I would be an artist. The personal computing revolution wouldn’t take place for another decade. So, my arts education consisted of learning all the “old ways”, from analog graphic design techniques to printmaking, textiles and ceramics. And, ceramics was where I received the first major recognition for my work at the end of my senior year.

 

In 1990 I won Level 1 for visual art in the YoungArts competition and was subsequently nominated as a presidential scholar. This lead to a full merit scholarship to the Maryland lnstitute College of Art that same year. Upon graduating in 1994, I was selected to be TA to ceramic artist Winnie Owens-Hart at the Haystack School of Craft in Deer Isle Maine. This led to my first residency at the Research Institute of African & African Diaspora Arts in Roxbury Massachusetts where I contributed to public art projects under Napoleon Jones-Henderson in 1995. I spent most of the mid to late nineties teaching myself how to design and illustrate digitally while working as a freelancer.

 

In 2002 I was selected into the artist in residence program at the Diaspora Vibe Gallery in Miami Florida. I allowed my digital illustration work to influence a series of paintings I refer to as “digirealism” in aesthetic approach. The acrylic paintings, mainly portraits were comprised of flat shapes of color that from a distance produced vivid 3D form. They were painted to remove the natural strokes of the human hand and were mistaken for printed digital illustrations. The work received immediate press attention, and select pieces were acquired by the permanent collections of Swiss design firm 9.6 and the Miami-Dade Public Library in 2003.

 

2003 was also the year that I was selected to participate in Diaspora Vibe’s International Cultural Exchange Program. It visits at least one country a year, throughout the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora, organizing group exhibits and workshops with local artists. I exhibited and taught workshops in this program up until 2013 and during this time the work expanded beyond painting and portraits. During this time, I was contacted by YoungArts to become one of there master artists and preliminary judges in 2009. I also started teaching drawing classes at the Ocean Reef Art league that same year.

 

In 2010 I received “Best In Show” for a twenty-foot sculpture created for the Turn Turn Turn: The Artistic Synthesis of Vinyl to Art exhibit at the The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in Fort Myers, Florida. It became my first public art project when it was installed in Fort Myers International Airport in 2011. In 2012 I illustrated and self-published a children’s picture book written by my wife Yolande entitled Rocko’s Big Launch. It’s about a boy who wants to build a rocket and go into outer space and won 1st place in Writer’s Digest’s self-published book award in 2013. I gained administrative experience when the CEO of KROMA Art Space & Studios recruited me as director and resident curator, which I did successfully from 2015-2017. In this role, I got to leverage a lot of the skills I had picked up along over the years, such as branding, graphic design, video editing, curating, exhibition installation, and team leading.

 

However, in 2016 when I co-founded Eolian, a software prototyping company that develops XR software brands, solutions & capabilities for the military & private sector, I felt like the initial undertaking utilized almost all the skill sets I had acquired up until that point. Suddenly, what seemed like a patchwork of random positions, became the perfect history to draw from as our team began to develop future technologies and the future of our company. My background in sculpture is crucial when 3D modeling immersive enviornments. My experience as graphic designer informs my user interface design. The drawing and illustration techinques I have honed give cues on how I should light environments. I have even been called upon to design workspaces at the company head quarters which tapped into my experience curating spaces. In summation, my career as an artist has now transcended physical space. I now can create work beyond the 3 dimensions. AR and VR are my new materials, and the immersive space is the medium.

CAREER NARRATIVE