Longtime San José art community member, Jack Toolin, has left the Bay Area for the vibrant stomping grounds of New York City. Jack —performance artist, photographer, founding member of the conceptual art collective C5 Corporation, and former board member of Works/San José—has work in the San José Museum of Art exhibition “Road Trip.” In this interview Jack talks about his history as a maker, what drives his practice, education, collaboration, and the search for the sublime.
Whirligig: You were born and raised in Pittsburgh. Can you tell me a bit about your upbringing and family life.
Jack: I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood in the duplex that my mom grew up in. It was a racist neighborhood, very white, and conservative in lots of ways.
Whirligig: How did you come to be an artist?
Jack: My dad was into photography as a hobby, and he was very political and community-minded. He was responsible for getting various types of community programs in place like the community swimming pool, and music and art classes. So I ended up taking art and ceramic classes. Because of his interests in photography there was a darkroom in our basement, and I began to make photographs when I was 14.