In their words: Conversations with Writing Topography artists—#13: Kim Vose Jones
Beaverbrook Art GalleryNovember 25, 20150 Comments
Over the next several weeks, we will be posting interviews with artists currently featured in the Gallery’s Writing Topography exhibition. These interviews were conducted by Rebecca Goodine, a university student participating in an internship at the Gallery. These interviews present artists talking about themselves and their work in their own words. Interviews were conducted with the artists by email, and have been lightly edited for grammar and flow (occasionally, questions and responses have been removed). At the end of interviews, we’ve included some links to provide a bit more information about a topic or theme from the interview; these links have been chosen by us, and were not provided by the artists.
Kim Vose Jones
Photo: Roger Smith
“ I enjoy the optics. The way the video reflects and reacts with the sculpture. Although 30 minutes in length, it offers brief glimpses of our landscape. I made a conscious effort to edit out any shots that had a human presence, because I wanted the viewer to be the human element, and to imagine the little homes as holding human presence.”
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic practice.
I grew up on a lake in southern Ontario where I spent vast amounts of time exploring the surrounding water and land. I lived in Pakistan, France and the USA until I moved to New Brunswick over ten years ago with my husband and two children.
I completed my undergraduate work at Concordia in Women Studies and Religion, glass blowing training at Alfred University in Upstate New York, and my MFA at Maine College of Art in Portland. Currently I work as a MFA Studio advisor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, adjunct faculty of Fine Arts at St. Thomas University in Fredericton and in Reference Services at the Harriet Irving Library. I work primarily in immersive sculptural installation using materials such as blown glass, salt, fibre, construction materials, sound, and video to create my environments.
How would you describe your work in the exhibition?
The work Entangled Community consists of a sculptural representation of a misshapen globe covered in optic resin tectonic plates which appear to be shifting and breaking down. The inside is hollow except for salt deposits and stalagmites. A tiny paper community of sewn houses entangled and bound together by their threads sit upon the surface. A video projection shoots through the sculpture onto the floor, creating a shadow of the breaking-down community that intermingles with the video. For me the work speaks to the notion that those relationships that sustain can also destroy: politically, environmentally, socially and personally. Yet there is in this an underlying presence of complicated beauty where fragility and strength coexist within the work. In essence, polyvocal.
Can you tell us about the process of creating the work in the exhibition?
I work in installation, so I always create sculptural elements in my studio that have a morph- ability aspect to them so that I can complete the work in the space where it will be displayed. This is very important to my process. I see the space around the work as part of the sculpture so each time something is displayed it will change according to where it lives for that time. I create mini-environments on-site, so all decisions about what will be in the final display are made there. I notice things about the work when it is on location. For this creation, I brought in sea salt and designed a pattern around the sculpture resembling the surge of ocean waves against the shore to increase the vulnerability of the work. There is an unspoken taboo about touching art and I like to play a little with that. I have noticed that people have run their fingers through the salt design on the floor, and their curiosity overcoming this taboo. I find this interesting.
What was the inspiration for this work?
Last summer I was awarded a MECA Alumni AIR [ed.: Artist residency] at the Jenny Compound in Baie Ste. Marie, Nova Scotia. For that residency I was working on a larger installation project for UNB Art Centre entitled Sensorium. The house I was living in was on the ocean and isolated. I would ride around the area on bicycle and talk to the locals in the area. I was struck by the tiny houses along the coast that clung to the edge of the earth and the people who choose to remain there even though they were facing economic crisis and dwindling populations. I began to create the community in miniature using interface paper, and blanket stitching together the walls of each house, leaving the last thread hanging from the house to entangle with the next.
Those little houses became the study for the larger silk house I developed for Sensorium, which I eventually developed into a separate piece for the McCain exhibition. The silk house was a peek inside one house, one complicated relationship. So I was working on them together and they became very connected, the micro and the macro view.
What was the development process like from your initial idea to the finished work?
While I was AIR [ed.: Artist-in-Residency] at Baie Ste Marie I would see these tiny wooden houses gripping the sides of cliffs, and communities once vibrant weathering slowly, but still trying to hang on to a way of life that had sustained them for generations. The very industries that fed also destroyed, and this is a precarious balance. I began to think about this planet with its core dug out, and the communities entangled together for support and necessities. It also points of course to general relationship entanglements.
As another part of my gathering of information I spent two years travelling the roads and towns around the province of New Brunswick. I would be driving through these fantastic vistas and then it would be just gone. I started thinking about duration and space and I wanted to give a sense of the vastness of the place by creating a video that changed over time and reflected the real, the mundane and the spectacular. There are three kinds of film making processes involved: stop motion*, durational single shots* and photomontage*. I was trying to mirror the pace of my movements, what my eye lingers on….
What is it you hope for the viewer to discover or consider through this work?
As an artist you never know what someone will discover through your work. I guess it is always a hope that they will indeed discover something relevant to them.
I can only speak to what I have considered. The fragility of our planet. How the relationships between the economy and community are complicated, how we are tied together in both support and responsibility. Experiencing art is a personal thing.
What do you find most compelling or enjoyable about this particular work?
I enjoy the optics. The way the video reflects and reacts with the sculpture. Although 30 minutes in length, it offers brief glimpses of our landscape. I made a conscious effort to edit out any shots that had a human presence, because I wanted the viewer to be the human element, and to imagine the little homes as holding human presence.
How does your work connect with broader themes?
I would say my work blends and blurs borders, and draws upon theories of abjection and the sublime, to question commonplace dichotomies. The theme of transition becomes a meditation on the relationship between absence and presence. I am attracted to the idea of a permeable silence becoming part of the work I create, setting up a stage for contemplation, seduction and experience. My immersive art is a fusion between the sculptural work in the space, the world around it, and the experience of the viewer.
When viewing Entangled Community, I felt like you had imbued an almost storybook quality to a very serious message because of the unique materials you used... How has material exploration been a part of your work in general?
My practice involves intensive laboratory-like material investigations. I like finding out how a process works and then corrupting it, and pushing the limits of what a material can do and how it is supposed to be used. When I begin a new project my studio becomes a lab. I like to set up various experiments. I always have an idea of what I want it to do and I keep working until I have the effect I desire.
For this work, I began to engage as I always do in the extreme sport of material investigation. I knew I wanted the globe to act as the screen, I wanted it to have optic effects and resemble shifting tectonic plates but also to seem like a still image of shifting water and ice. Satisfied with my finished compound, I began processing the tiles and experimenting with the limits of the structure to ensure it would be stable but seem fragile. I often use materials that mirror the concepts I am trying to address. The frame of the globe is the steel skeleton of a tent, reformed and welded into the form that blurs between globe and nucleus. The projector I view as part of the sculptural display- as having a conceptual and functional relevancy. Its position acts as an artificial sun on the planet, but it is also a nod to notions of surveillance.
Admittedly, I am a bit of a hack and don’t always know the “proper” way to process a material, so I just break down and analyze what it is made from and go from there.
What advice do you have to give to new and aspiring artists?
Trust the process, be brave, be kind, be bold.
Learn more about...
Kim Vose Jones is a Fredericton-based sculptor and installation artist working primarily in fibre, glass, and construction materials. She holds an MFA in Studio Art from Maine College of Art (Portland). Kim studied glass blowing and casting at Alfred University (Upstate New York) and earned a joint-major BA in Women’s Studies and Religion from Concordia University (Montreal), where she graduated with distinction. Vose Jones’s immersive art is a fusion between sculptural work in a space, the world around it, and the experience of the viewer, and draws upon theories of abjecton and the sublime to question commonplace dichotomies. She has shown her work internationally and is currently a lecturer of Fine Arts at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. Learn more about her work at http://kimvosejones.com
About the Exhibition
Writing Topography runs September 26, 2015 through January 10, 2016. The exhibition is organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and made possible with the generous support of the McCain Family, the Harrison McCain Foundation, and the McCain Foundation. Admission is FREE for Beaverbrook Art Gallery members and for children age six and under. More information on memberships and benefits can be found on our website at http://beaverbrookartgallery.org/en/support/membership. Featured artists include: Robert Bean, Gerald Beaulieu, Jennifer Bélanger, Rémi Belliveau, Jordan Bennett, Kay Burns, Amanda Dawn Christie, Richard Davis, Leah Garnett, Pam Hall, Mark Igloliorte, Navarana Igloliorte, Ursula Johnson, Philippa Jones, Stephen Kelly, Eleanor King, Fenn Martin, Michael McCormack, Kim Morgan, Nigel Roe, Sara Roth, Anna Torma, Gerald Vaandering, and Kim Vose Jones.