Dessie Jackson's Femme-Enfant Art Exhibit Showcases the Rise of Philadelphia's New Creative Class

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

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Defining creative movements that are resistant to a particular style, genre or medium is a difficult task to undertake. Sometimes these movements are so fluid in their working parts that to define them would be to undermine the very quality that makes these progressive climates so unique and organic. Here in Philadelphia we are in the midst of an unprecedented creative crusade. Artists, designers, musicians, organizers and visionaries alike are pouring out of the back alleys from South Philly back to Uptown pushing the boundaries for what is expected of an historically “B-Market” city (We should all remember Jessica Pressler's NY Times Philadelphia: the Sixth Borough story). One Philadelphia artist in particular defines the new generation of the Philadelphia creative class: Dessie Jackson. The opening event for her recent solo art show Femme-Enfant at the American Dreaming building represents a one-night embodiment of this new inspired surge in Philadelphia. 

The event’s attendees were a whos-who of Philadelphia creatives colliding with art collectors and family and friends of the talented Ms. Jackson. From DJs, fashion and jewelry designers, hip hop artists and punk-rockers to high society art collectors, photographers and press-writers looking to get in on the ground zero of this new creative wave, the night was nothing short of a melting pot of the best and brightest Philadelphia has to offer. Complimentary drinks were provided by Sailor Jerry’s, Heineken and Philadelphia’s own Spodee Wine and music was curated by Quite Hype with DJ’s Mathew Law and YS The DJ

The Femme-Enfant artwork was stunning. Through various mediums including charcoal, pencil, prints and a moving visual, Dessie’s works explored notions of the female body and spirit. Two life-size pencil murals depicted the profiles of two unclothed women (modeled by the beautiful Jules and Caroline). Her large printed works featured preexistent photography edited and altered in a sometimes twisted-fashion forcing the viewers to both question ideas of beauty and to consider what it means to be a woman in a time when social media presence and the selfie-obsession are serious issues whose impact on the psyche are not yet fully understood. Smaller pencil-work pieces focused on the human face, but these drawings were not merely reproductions of the real; rather, Dessie altered these faces by cutting them open creating an almost puzzle-like window into the soul.  

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Though her works incorporated various mediums and techniques, Dessie Jackson has a distinct style all her own. Her incomparable approach to art and expression is both unique and indicative of the flourishing wave of creative output coming from the city of Philadelphia. We at Cult Classic are both excited and curious to see what’s next for Dessie Jackson the artist. In the meantime, view the recap video of her Femme-Enfant opening recession below:


While we eagerly await the next chapter in her creative journey, we invite you to join us along with Dessie Jackson (operating as head curator) for our upcoming series of free art exhibitions starting with the inaugural event First Quarter coming to Philadelphia on March 28th 2015. Full info on this special event available here or click the flyer below to RSVP: