"In The Studio With:..." is a weekly feature that takes us into the private creative spaces of emerging artists to discuss their work and career.
Brooklyn based artist Karl Jones' three dimensional works function as a kind of allegory, repurposing folk tales and pop culture references to create new stories dealing with contemporary social issues and his personal life experiences. Materials he incorporates into his sculpture and bas relief often hold personal value to him in that they add an even more intimate layer to the work.
Anthony Philip Fine Art: Your work is highly narrative, while remaining very open to the personal experience of the viewer. How do you navigate between telling your story and allowing your audience to superimpose their own stories onto your work?
Karl Jones: The navigation is up to the viewer and I’m quite happy about that, because me talking too much about the work gets literal and mundane very quickly. There are universal experiences that we all share. I need the empirical before I feel moved enough to make something unless it’s an odd historical/myth story.
APFA: Much of your work is informed by or references folk tales and your experiences as a child of the Baby Boomer generation. Why do you find yourself returning to these vehicles in your work?
KJ: Because, as an older guy and father, I see the differences in our society, some of the absurd needs to be preserved as it’s moribund. We’re still a divided, prejudice country but a lot of good things have evolved since the 1950’s, they just don’t happen fast enough; one step forward two steps backward
A.P.F.A.: You had an earlier life as a Jazz musician. at what point did you find your self moving away from that mode of expression and drawn towards sculpture?
K.J.: I’ve bounced in and out of the jazz world and the visual art world twice each now. The last stint as a guitarist came to a fairly quick end starting with the crash of ’08, the gigs all but disappeared, I was staying alive by teaching but the students frittered away during the following year. I had art ideas that had been fermenting in my head for years and so it was time to return to the artist fold and go back to the building trades for bread. I was a practitioner as a musician, not a composer, as an artist I have my own ideas and voice and bring something personal to the table. I do miss the ensemble however.
A.P.F.A.: Your sculptures and wall reliefs are constructed using almost furniture making processes. Could you kind of walk us through the making of one of your reliefs?
K.J.: The shapes or figures are a plywood cut out, the “muscle” if you will, is a combination of bunched up canvas scraps/ fabric/ foam and galvanized wire lathe that is stapled in place. Once the forms are established on the plywood profile its all covered with a canvas “skin” that is stapled/ screwed down and primed. The painting process begins with a base coat of the darks applied with a tile trowel, (the shaded areas). After the first coat dries a second “highlights” top coat goes on. Once that dries I scrape the surface to allow the first coat to reemerge, creating a wood cut effect.
A.P.F.A: You divide your time between Brooklyn and Philadelphia. What is it about Brooklyn that has led you to establish your studio and practice here?
K.J.: I'm a blood thirsty savage with unfinished business, having dropped the ball in the early-mid 1980’s, no one to blame but myself. There is a jumpin’ community in Bushwick, a kind of art neighborhood. Both of my daughters are in Brooklyn doing their thing as well and thats a deal clincher
To learn more about Karl and his work, please visit http://www.karljonesart.com