Karin Jones is a multidisciplinary artist whose current work examines the methods by which historic narratives form our identities. The Canadian graduated from the jewellery artwork and design division at Vancouver Neighborhood Faculty in 1993 and now serves because the division head of this system. She obtained her MFA from NSCAD College. Her work has been exhibited the world over and is in everlasting collections together with these of the Vancouver Artwork Gallery, the Metallic Museum, Royal Ontario Museum, and the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. Jones has held residencies and apprenticeships in Finland and Germany, and can start a residency on the Burrard Arts Basis this fall.
As an artist and a jeweler, Jones asks herself: “I’ve an thought, a message to convey—is jewellery the very best medium to specific that concept?” Many occasions it’s, however not all the time. In answering this query, Jones says, it’s vital to essentially take into consideration how the concept, and the artwork being created to specific it, relate to the physique. She’s conflicted about simply putting an object on the physique and calling it artwork just because the item expresses an thought. Reasonably, in selecting jewellery because the medium for artwork, Jones believes it’s essential to ask, “how is having the item on the physique integral in enabling the artwork object to specific an thought?”
Jones’s current work exhibited on the Vancouver Artwork Gallery is the end result of years of eager about these concepts. Her sequence (physique of labor) relies on the shackles and restraints that enslaved individuals had been compelled to put on. Having spent her life making metallic objects for individuals to placed on their our bodies, she was struck by photographs of the metallic objects compelled upon the our bodies of enslaved individuals to trigger ache and confinement. As a Black lady herself, she thought of this historical past that formed her identification, that she carried together with her, that was compelled upon her. She created a sequence of eight neckpieces utilizing the methods she developed as a goldsmith, integrating supplies like human hair, corn, and rusted metal as a solution to work by the impression of the painful historical past of enslaved our bodies on the identities of Black our bodies generations later. For Jones, it was a really private course of, however her work additionally gave her a platform to speak concerning the concepts extra publicly, to share what she had realized with others. It additionally helped her reply the artwork jewellery query she wrestles with: Are some concepts too massive for jewellery? Maybe not, however cautious consideration of bijou because the medium for the artwork is crucial.
In a extra playful however equally highly effective sequence, Jones made brooches of hair to discover racism in social requirements of magnificence. Adapting the idea of Victorian mourning jewellery, the brooches are made with woven high-quality straight hair merged with gold tubing. However her artwork didn’t cease with the jewellery. Jones wore the brooches in a efficiency which concerned her additionally donning wigs that matched the hair used to assemble the pins whereas putting goofy glamourous poses. This efficiency was then captured by images. The merging of the jewellery with efficiency and images creates an impression that the items of bijou alone can’t have. When the jewellery items are positioned on a physique that itself is difficult and poking enjoyable at magnificence requirements, the jewellery communicates extra strongly as a medium for the supposed message.
Jones continued to discover racism in requirements of magnificence however selected one other medium of decoration to specific her message—the Victorian costume. As Jones notes in an artist discuss, Sarah Baartman was taken from Africa within the early 1800s, dropped at Europe, and compelled to carry out in carnival sideshows. Her physique, particularly her giant buttocks, was made an object of spectacle, an emblem of primitive sexual stereotypes of African ladies. Together with the criticism of and contempt for Baartman’s physique arose a simultaneous fascination with and emulation of it, demonstrated by the corresponding will increase within the dimension of the bustles of the Victorian clothes in trend for white ladies on the time. To handle the lengthy historical past of stereotypes of Black ladies’s our bodies, Jones painstakingly adorned a Victorian mourning costume with tons of of braids of African hair. The costume, commissioned by the Royal Ontario Museum to doc the presence and absence of Africans in Canada’s historic narrative, additionally speaks to the invisible labor of African ladies within the textile commerce who helped construct the economies of Britain and Canada.
Early in her profession, Jones labored with damascene, inlaying silver and gold on metal in her jewellery. She began to consider themes that she may discover by making use of these methods to non-jewelry items. One sequence of labor used damascene to inlay gold and silver in Arts and Crafts patterns within the metal of widespread backyard instruments—shovels, a pitchfork, a sickle. The work was displayed in a gallery area on Salt Spring Island, off the coast of British Columbia, and was properly obtained as artwork on the themes of the preciousness of farming and the romanticization of rural life.
In a good earlier line of labor, Jones labored with colourful champlevé enamel, portray enamel by hand, firing it with a torch by hand, grinding it with a stone by hand. She cherished that course of, discovered it actually meditative, not eager to rush the work even when it meant bringing in much less cash. On the time, she began to discover Ethiopian artwork, particularly the use and which means of eyes. So she made a jewellery piece with eyes and a mirror inside. “It was speculated to imply one thing about your self, or analyzing your soul,” she says. It was going to be a part of a present at an area that primarily offered jewellery however as a result of it was an exhibition, she thought she would work with a theme and folks would wish to discuss concerning the concepts. In the course of the exhibit, nonetheless, no one actually cared concerning the message behind the piece; they weren’t . Individuals simply seemed for items they preferred as trend objects and would wish to put on. Trying again now, Jones is pleased with the piece however sees it as “someplace between one thing ornamental and one thing creative that didn’t actually convey a message very strongly. I used to be younger,” she says, laughing. She realized severe classes about find out how to share highly effective messages by her work. The medium issues, and so does the area the place the objects are displayed.
Jewellery as a medium can extra simply be thought-about artwork in up to date gallery areas moderately than in industrial areas. Not being displayed alongside items which can be being offered for adornment has the facility to rework jewellery objects into artwork. Individuals, Jones notes, come into an area that’s reserved for artwork virtually as if it had been a sacred area, eager about the concepts that the items are sending, moderately than simply considering whether or not they wish to purchase the work and put on it.
As a result of galleries typically don’t take into account jewellery as a potential medium for artwork, they typically don’t have methods to securely and successfully show jewellery of their areas. This, Jones finds, reinforces the impediments towards having jewellery in artwork areas. She explains, “I knew that if I wished to point out my work in these areas, the best factor I may do was to beat these limitations, as a sensible, logical factor to resolve the issue of find out how to present my work in a gallery.” Jones views aiding galleries in displaying artwork jewellery as a part of her work. Utilizing her metalsmithing expertise, she made shiny mounts of brass to carry the neckpieces in her (physique of labor) sequence. She additionally hooked up the mounts to painted black panels at neck degree, symbolizing an absence of the physique and the absence of African artists within the western artwork world—on this means she once more went past the jewellery medium to be able to add to the message.
In jewellery college, Jones realized that jewellery needed to be artwork. In her MFA program, she realized that her artwork doesn’t all the time need to solely use jewellery. In some ways, the traces confining jewellery as a medium that requires the sturdy, particular expertise she loves to make use of assist her as an artist. But the boundaries and corresponding classes that may make her really feel like her medium needs to be jewellery might be limiting too.
On condition that she is now properly generally known as a recent artist, it’s fascinating that Jones lights up when she talks about her time as a goldsmith and making and promoting her personal line of bijou at markets and thru her enterprise—taking delight and pleasure in having the ability to make the rings that made a pair glad, or arising with a profitable technique to fix a treasured piece that appeared past restore. In these instances, she mentioned, the jewellery wasn’t artwork, and wasn’t attempting to be. Reasonably, jewellery was a factor by itself, and the individuals who commissioned a bit from her or bought an merchandise she had on supply purchased it and wore it not due to what she wished the piece to say however due to what they felt it mentioned about themselves. Her artwork is private to her; her jewellery is private to those that put on it, and he or she cherished that.
Now that her work has been widely known as artwork, together with her present within the Vancouver Artwork Gallery and residencies and reveals lined up for the long run, Jones feels she has crossed a boundary. Individuals now anticipate her work to be artwork, participating with themes which can be private to her and significant socially. It might be arduous to return to the jewellery items, although they introduced her a lot pleasure to make and others pleasure to put on. However her love and ability for jewellery will all the time be a part of her influential work as one of many main up to date artists, utilizing jewellery as a medium, in Canada at present.
 Whereas it has a deeper private which means for Jones, the corn (together with the kind of corn, hominy) in her work additionally represents the fields and agriculture in addition to poverty and discovering magnificence with restricted assets and amongst ugliness.