Profile: Jennie C. Jones (1968-)

Jennie C. Jones is an African-American artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been described, by Ken Johnson, as evoking minimalism, and paying tribute to the cross-pollination of different genres of music, especially jazz. As an artist, she connects most of her work between art and sound. Such connections are made with multiple mediums, from paintings to sculptures and paper to audio collages. In 2012, Jones was the recipient of the Joyce Alexander Wien Prize, one of the biggest awards given to an individual artist in the United States. The prize honors one African-American artist who has proven their commitment to innovation and creativity, with an award of 50,000 dollars. In December 2015 a 10-year survey of Jones’s work, titled Compilation, opened at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas.

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Education

Jennie C. Jones received her BFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in 1991. She then graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, earning her MFA in 1996. In the summer of 1996, Jones was a participant at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Work

Jones is a visual and sonic artist whose paintings, sculptures, and works on paper incorporate ideas around minimalism, abstraction, Jazz, and Black history. Valerie Cassel Oliver noted in her “Outside The Lines,” catalog essay, that “working in painting as well as sound, she has mined the politics, culture and aesthetic innovations of the mid-20th century and has emerged with sharp criticisms and astute queries that are now embedded in the work. Jones’s work challenges us to understand the frameworks of modernism, which embraced black musical forms but excluded black visual art from its canon”. During Absorb / Diffuse, her fall 2011 exhibition at The Kitchen in New York City, Jones presented a piece titled From The Low, which is a sound piece that has multiple music samples, ranging from jazz to modern electronica. From The Low presents her political statement: that African-American artists and musicians are absent from modernism. The samples used in this sound piece have been “given a new context, perhaps to be classified in a category of black minimalism”.

The audio pieces are constructed using traditional sound editing methodologies and often have their origin in historic recordings. With the amalgamation of industrial acoustic materials, often used in recording studios and listening rooms, Jones’s art focuses on building a bridge between two-dimensional works, architecture, and sound. Jennie has stated that “conceptualism allows these different media to occupy the same space.” Jones is a critic in the Sculpture Department at Yale University.

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