School of Art

Meet Maya Jackson, a landscape-based, conceptual photographer graduate student from Richmond, Virginia, and MFA graduate student.

Jackson is a member of the 2023-2024 University Fellows cohort. She earned her BFA in photography at VCU Arts and continues to work on her craft at the University of Arizona School of Art. Moving to Arizona was a great decision. 

“It was definitely a big leap to move across the country, but I’m really glad I did it, Jackson said. “I love it here.” 

Moving to Tucson has provided Jackson with a new landscape to experience. 

“I came out here to get a new experience after being in the same environment for so long back home. Being in the desert specifically is something that people either tend to love or hate once they get here. I have learned to love and embrace it, especially the different types of plants and animals I’ve seen.

“Now that I am here in this part of the country, I can’t wait to travel more to places like Joshua Tree, California or even to see some of the Redwood forest. 

The University Fellows award came as a surprise to Jackson.

“I didn’t know that I was being nominated,” she said, “I feel very fortunate and appreciative to have received the Fellows Award. It’s exciting because we have a group of peers in graduate programs from different majors across the entire university.” 

Maya hopes to collaborate with other fields to incorporate art where it is lacking. The Graduate Center’s program has many of science majors, and several from linguistics, engineering, and medicine. 

“It’s been nice to meet different people pursuing their terminal degree who are committed to leadership in addition to finding the best way to be a real world, well-rounded creative young individual,” Jackson said. 

Photography has been the discipline that Jackson uses to be in the real world. 

“I remember taking my first darkroom class at a community arts center in middle school and loving that. I stuck with it throughout middle and high school. Then I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). At VCU, I started to understand my love for conceptual photography. I do a lot of landscape-based images, combining myself and my body with the landscape, finding out what those things can mean. 

“I love the tangibility of working with film and being in the darkroom. As much as I appreciate the ability to shoot digitally because it speeds up the process for professional uses or business purposes, I like shooting with 35-millimeter or medium format film just because of its materiality. The darkroom is a meditative peaceful thing for me. I get to work on my process, my negatives, and feel a one-to-one connection with the medium.”  

Jackson looks forward to shaping her craft in new ways at the School of Art and through the University Fellows program.