L. Diane Jackson
1948 - 2009
Diane was born to Stafford and “Artie” Jackson in Oklahoma City on January 21, 1948.
Her only brother David, an accomplished painter, died when Diane was in her ‘20s. She was devastated and mourned his death for years.
In her youth Diane attended Casady, a private academically competitive school where she made many life-long friendships. She excelled in athletics and expressed an interest in the fine arts. Contrary to stereotypes, this head cheerleader became a curious independent liberal thinker whose talents ranged from creative writing and music, specifically the piano, to photography. Her fellow students would describe her as very social, sometimes rowdy. Diane’s exuberant laugh remained her trademark her entire life.
Diane was possessed with wanderlust for travel preferring less developed even virgin parts of the world. After completing her education degree specializing in anthropology at the University of Oklahoma in 1971, she headed to Central America. Her first destination was Guatemala. She was there during the historic earthquake of 1976 and recounted her experience of helping victims who had been injured and displaced. She demonstrated her quiet empathic sensitivity during this experience that would serve her when she began her photographic career.
Her parents, Artie and Stafford, also enjoyed traveling and she accompanied them on trips to Greece, Crete, Corfu, and the Carribbean, trips she documented with her camera.
In the late seventies, Diane moved to San Francisco and lived in an apartment on Telegraph Hill below Coit Tower. An intrepid explorer, Diane imbibed all of the sights and sounds of San Francisco. She had a very eclectic taste in music from opera to world music, from Pavarotti and Rene Fleming to Cesaria Evora and Bob Marley and attended many world class musical performances in California.
Diane moved to Los Angeles to pursue her avid interest in photography by completing an MFA in Photography from the Parsons New School of Design. She completed two major photography projects involving former vaudeville entertainers, interviews that resulted in documenting their memories of vaudeville days and stunning portraits of the now aging entertainers. One of the entertainers, Olive Sherman, a refreshingly feisty woman, is interviewed and documented on Diane’s video. Diane also worked as a photographer of stills for the movie, “The Right Stuff” and a play performed by former vaudevillians and aging actors, “Ode to a Bit Player.”
While in LA, Diane took scuba diving lessons and went on diving expeditions to the Channel Islands kelp forests. Never one to do something half way, she went on to become certified in advanced PADI diving skills.
Diane studied ashtanga yoga for many years. She lived in Mysore, India, for three months as a student of the famous guruji, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Many of her most captivating photographs record daily life in India. Diane opened the first yoga studio in Oklahoma City when she returned from California in the mid-1990’s, taught yoga, and brought several notable ashtanga practitioners here for workshops with local students.
While she lived in Oklahoma City, she continued to go scuba diving with a willing friend, Ellen Jonsson, and the pair went diving several times in Honduras, Cancun, Dominica and other places. These trips were always an adventure. Diane took a solo dive trip to Kiribati, Christmas Island, accessible at the time with one weekly flight in and out. Dive trips were not the only adventures Diane pursued. She visited France, Costa Rica, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and went on a camping trip to a remote area in the arctic wilderness in Alaska. She even went dogsledding in the northern tip of Minnesota.
Diane loved Scrabble, Sudoku’s, and crossword puzzles. She was articulate, well read and concerned about the environment, animal welfare, and other current issues, and contributed funds to several causes.
A world traveler, Diane captured artful black and white images of the people she encountered in diverse settings. Her kindness and sense of humor, combined with a genuine empathy for others, was key to her ability to record vulnerable moments. People who did not speak the same language were open to having Diane take photographs, a great skill for a photographer! The photographs show her intense love for children and animals, but the images are always sensitive and never cloying.
Integrity of the composition was always a primary objective in Diane’s work. Her photographs illustrate her skill and her practiced “eye” in selecting the angle and the dynamic tension inherent in whatever interesting subject matter she found.
Her last challenge was a recurrence of cancer. Again, Diane fought the challenge with dignity and grace. She died at home in February 2009 attended by several close friends.
Diane’s longtime friends and her estate executors Debbie Fleischaker and David Cheek, determined that friends Ellen Jonsson and Randy Floyd be entrusted with her photographs and negatives. With financial assistance from the estate and many of Diane’s friends, a retrospective exhibit of 75 of her photographs took place at the Individual Artists of Oklahoma gallery in downtown Oklahoma City in 2010. Vaudeville photos and documents were sent to the University of Arizona Library, Special Collections: Vaudeville. The catalogue may be viewed on line at http://speccoll.library.arizona.edu/collections/linda-diane-jackson-collection.
Ellen and Randy were committed to preserving Diane’s photographic legacy. After the exhibit, they approached the Untitled [Artspace] in Oklahoma City to determine if the Photographic Resource Project would be interested in conserving Diane’s work for the future. The estate contributed funds and Diane’s photographs, prints, documents and notebooks of negatives were added to the Project. Now, her photographs are on the website. An exhibit is planned in the fall of 2016.