July 2019 Artist in Residence: Kelly Kristin Jones
Kelly Kristin Jones uses her photo-based installation work as a vehicle to explore competing narratives within urban cultural landscapes. She received an MFA in Photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was a Post-MFA Faculty Fellow at the University of Georgia in 2013. Kelly has completed residencies at MASS MoCA, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Emory University, and ACRE. Her current work with contested US monument sites has been exhibited at museums, galleries, and universities across the US. Kelly is a 2018 - 2019 HATCH Artist Resident at Chicago Art Coalition.
Q&A with Kelly Kristin Jones, interviewed by Noëlle Pouzar
Your work often plays on intersections within photography and performance, most recently in your series, Reconstructions, where you cover historical monuments with photographic images. Tell us more about this series and how you approach this relationship.
I started working with contested monuments while living in Atlanta, Georgia several years ago. I was fascinated with the way public urban space had been co-opted by privileged (and often completely false) historical narratives.
Not only do I want to challenge/question the myths promoted by monuments and memorials in public parks across the US, but I’m also interested in exploring how photography has been implicated in the promotion of privileged interpretations and manipulations of US history. I cover monuments with photographic prints, I enact traditional darkroom techniques like “burning” and “dodging” on site, and I create in-camera manipulations all with the goal to unsettle both story and document.
How do you balance autobiography and historical research through your practice?
I’ve always been interested in playing with landscape photographic assumptions and this project first began as I was attempting to photograph empty urban spaces. Instead I felt crowded out by the proliferation of large-than-life male bodies in the public urban landscape. There was no reflection of my story let alone attempt to grant it any space.
This remains the motivation behind the work: not to supplant a male mythos with female, but to generate and then guard space for a polyvocal experience.
How does Chicago specifically influence your interest in documenting narratives within urban environments?
What I love most about urban space is the layering of history and memory at every site. My partner and I just moved into a “new” apartment in a 105-year-old three flat. I love looking at the scuffed floorboards and thinking about how many others made this place their home over the years.
Chicago and much of the Midwest hosts a number of contested markers and monuments – this is not just a Southern US problem. Chicago parks have 75 statues and monuments celebrating historic men but not a single statue or bust of a historically significant woman in any of the city’s 580 parks.
So, there’s work to do here and I’m deeply inspired by other artists in Chicago also working with urban space and counter narratives – people like Bethany Collins, Ashley Freeby, Jenny Kendler, and Amanda Williams.
What will you be working on during your residency at LATITUDE?
I plan to do a lot of scanning and printing for several upcoming exhibitions. Additionally, I am excited to print and install some new work at contested sites around the city.
When out of your studio, what can you be found doing?
I’m generally pretty terrible at showing up to art openings (too shy) but love surprising the sleepy gallery attendant first thing the next morning. After I get my art fix, I’m likely looking for the best cinnamon bun in Chicago, biking the 606, or volunteering at PAWS Chicago.
What are you currently reading, watching, and/or listening to?
Currently watching: The Chef’s Table on Netflix (maybe one day I’ll learn to cook for myself?)
Currently listening to: Over My Dead Body (Nothing gets me through hours of de-dusting negs like a creepy true-crime podcast!)