Meet Jackie Wilson, Artist & Recreation Center Aide

single-meta-cal August 9, 2017

Jackie Wilson was doing minor home improvement 15 years ago or so, spray-painting sconces she had taken from a wall and rested on a paper drop cloth.  

What struck her wasn’t the sconces but instead, the patterns left behind on the paper.  

“My ‘Wow!’ moment,” she calls it. 

Long an artist, she had discovered a new medium – simple, off-the-shelf, commercial spray paint. It’s a medium on display through the month of August on the first floor of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library in a stunning collection of 30 pieces of her art. 

Art is a passion for Wilson, 53, a recreation aide for the Huntsville Parks & Recreation Department who has been at the Dr. Richard Showers Recreation Center for the past 17 years in a variety of roles, not the least of which has been cultivating young artists. 


Allison Dillon-Jauken, executive director of ArtsHuntsville, has long appreciated Wilson’s talent. 

“I first met Jackie at the Richard Showers Center, where she has inspired countless area youth through art classes,” Dillon-Jauken said. “When you enter her world, there is creativity everywhere you turn. Kids of all ages are engaged and challenged to “imagine the possibilities.’ Huntsville is a better city because of artists like her.” 

Art & Athletics 

Wilson’s love for art has been life-long, though she didn’t have the sort of training and exposure to develop her craft at an early age. Athletics trumped art.  

She played volleyball and basketball at Lee High School and earned a volleyball scholarship to Alabama A&M. She majored in graphic arts and commercial art at A&M. After several corporate jobs, she was hired by the City of Huntsville in a part-time summer role as an art teacher at summer camp, eventually evolving into a full-time role. 

She’s still enough of an athlete to play and coach a volleyball team – and to humble the occasional young athlete who can’t believe “Miss Jackie” had game. Laughs Wilson, “I tell ‘em, ‘You don’t want me pulling on my Jordans out there on you. If we go play one-on-one, I don’t want any crying.’” 

She’ll often have an idea for a painting sparked by something she’s seen that day at the Showers Center; an accomplished photographer as well, Wilson might snap a photo and replicate it in a painting. 

“Just Walmart spray paint “

Wilson works with a variety of media, but the Walmart spray paint, applied to glossy paper she bought years ago in bulk at Mike’s Merchandise, led her to “find my niche,” as she puts it. She is a self-described “abstract artist” whose work is “inspired by things I see, by my viewers. And the talent comes from God.” 

Most of her work is done in a storage building her husband Dwight, a retired U.S. Army sergeant, bought her. (Married 23 years, they have four children among them – Tory Boyd, Schneicka Brown, Joshua Wilson and Jessica Nelson – and 13 grandchildren.)  

She works a noon to 9 p.m. shift at Showers Center, so she’ll often begin painting after everyone has gone to bed.  

“I start off with a blank canvas,” she says. “I’ll put the paper on the table and turn my gospel music on and I’ll meditate and pray and ask the Lord anything I need to do, anything to his will, let it be.” 

As Wilson gives a tour of her display, visitors stop to chat, and to ask about purchasing paintings. Though they are all for sale, “I don’t want any prices on the paintings,” she says. “I want you to look at the picture. I don’t want you to worry about the price. I want you to see what you do, to encourage you, to give you hope.” 

A visitor asks which painting is her favorite, and she offers the stock response. 

Softly, with a smile, Wilson answers, “The next one I paint.” 

This is a monthly series introducing you to City employees and their stories.