Q&A: JD Jackson

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

How does being an artist yourself inform the work you do conserving Dale Chihuly sculptures at the conservatory?

I get great energy off it. Every week, you're going to get some new dynamic. It's always suspenseful because you don't know what direction some plants have grown or, on the exterior, what's going on with sand, wind and sun. Because it's a biosphere, it's always in motion.

Did these sculptures come with instructions?

They had a manual for safety and a recommendation for a duster. Beyond that, you would have to utilize your ingenuity and inventiveness to create the tools. That's what art school does: It teaches you not what to think but how to think, how to be creative. We're not just compartmentalizing how to get things done.

Any challenges that have stumped you yet?

So far, no. But there was no expectation that big green flies would get into the sculptures. There's a fly that's been bothering me for the last two and a half years. I don't tell people about it because once you see it you can't unsee it. We don't want them to see. We just want it to look magical and stay pristine.

How have you stayed passionate?

You can't just do this for dollars; you would run out of steam. You do this because you love it. And because it gives you energy. It's symbiotic. There's reward because you're doing something for humanity. Pretty good gig. Some people call it a plum job. As long as I'm around beautiful stuff, it's not quite work.

Little-Known Facts

1. At age 12, Jackson won first place in the Toledo Blade Christmas coloring contest.

2. His painting "Songs for the Stellar Worlds" hangs in the Eva Marie Saint Theater for the Performing Arts at Bowling Green State University.

3. For 10 years, Jackson worked as the preparatory of exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts.