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1948/1949 Harlan Jackson, Stanley Hayter, Haiti, 'The Lead Shoes'

The African American painter, Harlan Jackson, studied at the School from 1946 until 1948 where he took classes from Stanley Hayter and Mark Rothko and was the class monitor (ie, TA) for Richard Diebenkorn. He was also vice-president of the student body.  He participated in Sidney Peterson’s “Workshop 20” avant-garde film class that produced The Lead Shoes. Jackson played the title role as the deep sea diver. The Lead Shoes is considered “a miniature tour de force” and was “selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant and will be preserved for all time.”

The highly respected Jackson received the  School’s 1948/49 Rosenberg Travelling Fellowship, to visit Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and  then on to Haiti to study the connections between African and American Art.  Jackson’s correspondence describes Haitian social conditions, the art scene at Howard and Dillard Universities and New York City.

For all of you archival sleuths, the attached pdf is a selected set of letters pertaining to Jackson’s travels which includes wonderful letters he wrote back to the School, his initial proposal,  and his list of references that included David Park, Douglas MacAgy, Clay Spohn and Elmer Bischoff. 

And a youtube link to The Lead Shoes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXPhZ3nJpX8

[1948: Harlan Jackson as the deep sea diver; Stanley Hayter gives "constructive criticism" to Harlan Jackson; Harlan Jackson with beret on the set of The Lead Shoes, Sidney Peterson’s “Workshop 20” film class]


With permission, SFAA is re-posting the emails Jeff Gunderson Librarian/Archivist Anne Bremer Memorial Library has been sending out since March 2020. Please enjoy this magnificent archive.



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