When you ask Springfield street photographer Malcolm Jackson, known as Malc Jax, about life in the urban core, he responds, “The core is where the spirit lives.” As a freelance documentary photographer, he captures the beauty and power in everyday life. As a fourth-generation Jacksonville native, Jackson has deep roots in the neighborhoods of Springfield, Eastside (or “Out East” as he calls it) and LaVilla.
“If you cut me, I’ll probably bleed teal,” he says.
You may have recently seen his work on billboards around town through the #jaxtaposition project, a public art project started by Jared Odrick of the Jacksonville Jaguars. This project places local photography on billboards in locations that are unexpected for art installations. The juxtaposition of the artwork and location makes viewers take pause in a part of town that they may not have thought much about. His work is currently on exhibit at the DeLo Studios downtown as part of their emerging artist exhibition series.
His work as a self-taught street photographer has taken him to New York, Miami and California. No matter where he is, one thing remains the same: he’s always drawn to urban core communities for inspiration. His approach is to just “click” and capture the most human side of any given moment. Urban norms like gold teeth, tattered sneakers, “old school donks” (Chevy Caprice Classics with huge rims) and laundromats are his inspiration. He has an uncanny ability to see the raw beauty of a neighborhood and powerful truths in mundane moments. And unlike some others in his field, he chooses not to expose the vulnerable side of a neighborhood or those that have no voice, like the homeless.
“What has traditionally been taboo to some people, it’s culture to me,” Jackson says. Regardless of the subject, for Jackson, “a great photograph evokes emotion.”
Jackson lives in Springfield, and the neighborhood in many ways serves as his muse. “Springfield is a very spontaneous place, and every day you go outside it’s a brand new canvas,” he says. “A clean slate.”
Already a role model and mentor, Malcolm continues to introduce photography to children in the neighborhood as a teacher, with the hope of inspiring them to put down any negative temptations around them and pick up a camera and go to work.
He remembers when Main Street when was lined with pawnshops and one friend chicken shack. He’s happy to see change, like the two micro-breweries and other bars and restaurants planned along the Main Street commercial corridor, and he is glad to see that long-time businesses such as Joe’s Car Wash and The Uniform Man have survived the transition. He hopes the revitalization will draw people from across the region to the historic neighborhood that inspires him every day.
“Springfield is a small community and still has a sense of family, where everybody knows everybody,” he says, and “the porch is a sacred place.”