Mary Jackson is the only framer at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, where she’s run a one-woman shop since 2014. So when people want to preserve and exhibit their military memorabilia, she is the one they usually turn to. Jackson says she loves transforming newspapers, shirts, flags, and other objects into display items that represent and honor the community she grew up around. “All of my cousins and my sisters are retired military females,” she says. “I guess it’s my way into the military through the back door.”
Jackson began framing in the 1980s to help finance her daughter’s education. She had a busy day job working as a DC public school teacher, so at first, she was just helping out during her free time. After she retired from teaching, Jackson took over the operation—located in the base’s Arts & Crafts Center—and has run it ever since.
Jackson says she’s now framed thousands of pieces. One of her biggest projects involved reframing more than 180 pieces in five months for the U.S. Air Force Band. She credits a close-knit, supportive community for making the shop a success. “They’ve gotten to the point where they just trust me,” she says. “They bring pieces over and leave them and say ‘do your thing.’”