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JESSICA FOOS JONES

(b. 1968)

SCULPTOR

By Gallery Historians

Jessica Foos Jones is an American artist who sculpts animals, predominantly birds. Trained in the United States and China, Jones melds her skill with her Taoist beliefs to create sculpture that focuses on the spirit.




Table Of Contents

I. Biography

Jessica Foos Jones was born February 18, 1968 in Broad Run, Virginia. She went to elementary school in Virginia, and later moved to her Mother’s hometown of Charleston, South Carolina where she attended Junior High and High School. Her father, an International Banker moved the family to Hong Kong for a three-year stint while she was a child.

As an adolescent, Jones enjoyed creating art, especially sculpture. Her parents did not have careers relating to the arts, however, her inspiration derived from her Grandfather, a sculptor, and Grandmother, an interior designer, who went to the Parson’s Art School in Paris. Jones’ artistic endeavors were only supported after she finished her academic studies.

Jones initially studied at Georgetown University were she received her Liberal Arts degree. In her junior year, she learned how to speak Mandarin and spent a year in China. After fulfilling her parents wishes, Jones studied at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She continued her art training and received a Masters degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Her connection with China furthered in 1997, when she was involved in a group show in Shanghai, China at the Yi Hu Kwan Gallery. In 1998, Jones received a grant to study at the Jing De Zhen Ceramic Institute in Jing De Zhen, China. In 2006, she was asked to be included in an upcoming book to be published in Shanghai on ceramic sculptors who studied at the Jing De Zhen Ceramic Institute in Jing De Zhen, China.

Today, Jones continues to exhibit throughout the United States, while working as a substitute teacher for private elementary schools in Oakland, CA.

II. An Analysis of the Artist's Work

Jessica Foos Jones artistic inspiration derived from her various experiences throughout life. As a child, it was her observations of the many animals on her family’s farm in Virginia that peeked her interests. Jones recalls that as a youth she sculpted, painted and assembled animal forms out of anything that she could find. After completing her professional training, she returned to the subject of animals, especially birds as her predominate subject matter.

Jones became dedicated to the subject of birds when she was studying at the New York State College of Ceramic at Alfred University. Walking to class and through the city, Jones found that New Yorkers tended to avoid the everyday pigeon. However, to her, the birds and particularly their attitudes became a subject that she respected. Since she spent time as a child and as an adult in China, she also has used the subject of birds to incorporate her Taoist beliefs.

Today, bird figurines are thought as kitschy, sweet and simple. However, Jones does look at birds in this same manner. She takes this “kitschy” subject and pushes her sculpture into what can be deemed as surreal. Throughout Jones’ work, the birds symbolize, the Taoist idea that everything works in harmony. They are rendered in realistic size to a New York pigeon in Central Park, however they lack color. Her intended approach is to make the exterior less pronounced, while allowing the spirit of her subject to be prominent.

To capture the core of her subject, Jones focuses on the gesture and the spirit of an animal. She believes the animals operate metaphorically and with each piece she attains varied attitudes, emotions and even viewpoints. There is little detail, no modeling of feather while the pieces remain monochromatic. To their exteriors, she applies, terra sigilatta, a glaze that the ancient Greeks are known to have used for their red and black figure ware. The final glaze ends is white, not too glossy or too mate, rather seemly organically and immensely appealing.

Jones birds are simple in form, streamlined and with little emphasis on detail allowing for their spirit to be pronounced. It is the relationships we see in the birds, one sleeping, and another looking for food that relates to her continuous observations on the subject as well as her Taoist beliefs that allow the spirit to be understood as well. Her sculpture is not only art, but also an experience. The birds are meant to be seen in the round. Shown alone, or in a grouping the pieces are an installation, meant to be walked around and observed.

Painters and sculptors throughout the ages have chosen to depict the bird as their subject. Dating back to the Egyptians, the falcon-headed god Horus represented the pharaoh during life, and was depicted on sarcophagi and inscribed into walls. In Greek mythology, the Phoenix was regarded as a symbol of immortality and spiritual rebirth. In the 17th century, many Dutch painters depicted the genre of “game pieces.” More recently, artists such as Ed Ruscha, in his 2002 show of “Birds, Fish and Offspring” went for a more radical approach to the subject of the bird. Following her own path, Jones has personalized a subject used throughout the ages, resulting in works that are beautiful and full of heart.

IV. Solo Exhibitions

  • 2002 New Friends The Spencer Art Gallery Charleston, SC
  • 2001 Jessica Jones: Recent Work The Spencer Art Gallery, Charleston, SC
  • V. Group Exhibitions

  • 2007, 2006 Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2005 Recent Works, The Spencer Art Gallery Charleston, SC
  • 2004 Gallery 556 Charleston, SC
  • 2003 Mendocino Art Center Mendocino, CA
  • 2002 Narrating the Morphic YHZ Gallery Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • 1998 Jing De Zhen ’98 Ceramic Symposium, Jing De Zhen Sculpture Factory, China
  • 1997 Yi Hu Kwan Gallery, Shanghai

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