Marla A. Jackson


Marla A. Jackson

Artist statement


I read Michelle Obama’s book Becoming; after reading it, she BECAME, in my opinion, First Lady Forever. I was still legally blind while reading the book and starting the quilt. After having laser surgery, I could see that the colors were so intense…. Each chapter of First Lady Michelle Obama’s book took me to a different level. I was so inspired, and so honored, to create a representation of her. Our First Lady forever!


Marla A. Jackson, born 1952

Michelle Obama, BECAME, 2019,
cotton fabrics and acrylic paint, 55 x 33 inches
Collection of the artist, Photography © Don Jackson


Artist bio


Marla Arna Jackson is a self-taught fiber artist and educator based in Lawrence, Kansas. Her narrative quilts are inspired by the oral histories of her ancestors and the Kansas region. Jackson has been featured in the Kansas History Society Quarterly, Threads of Faith, Ms Magazine, Speaking Out of Turn magazine, Quilt Life magazine, PBS programs, local and regional syndicated press, and various exhibition catalogues. As founder and director of the National African American Quilt Museum and Textile Academy, Jackson created the National African American Quilt Convention in 2017. In 2018, Jackson received the “Anyone Can Fly” Lifetime Achievement Award given by artist Faith Ringgold. She was also nominated for the Martin Luther King, Jr., “Dream One” award by the Lawrence school district. In 2016, Jackson received a Phoenix Award from the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission, and she currently serves on their board of directors. The Spencer Museum has partnered with Jackson on numerous projects, from working with local youth to exhibitions held at the Spencer, including Narratives of the Soul and And Still We Rise for the 2017 National African American Quilt Convention. Jackson’s first book, Sankofa, Lessons Learned: Quilted Portraits, was published in September 2020.