Hailing from Northwest Arkansas, photo artist Chloe Jones’ work has always been closely informed by home. This outpour arrives throughout her work’s vast subject matter, which includes stylized scenes and portraits cloaked in the recognizable nature of the Ozarks. An MFA student at The University of Hartford in New York, Jones’s work continues to evolve as a tribute to the liminal space of her upbringing and a discernment to revisit and occupy it. MIXD is thrilled to continue to represent Jones’ work in Drop 003, and even more so that she invited the gallery for a peek into her practice in the past, the present, and for the future in the below conversation.
How has life in Arkansas influenced your work?
Chloe Jones When I was very young, my Poppa built a little house on Beaver Lake with his family and friends. He made a photo album documenting the process of our family physically transforming the house from a barn for animals to a multigenerational home. The album is lined in velvet and was (and is still) treated like a precious talisman by my Poppa. This album provided a formative experience of photography as critical to our family history – it is an attentive record of how our family is inextricably tied to the place. How land shapes people, and people shape the land. This land and house became a backdrop for our family’s performance. It was this revolving door of humans and animals that came onto center stage. It was a hotbed of possibility and ideas. Most of my work is still made in and around this house.
Who introduced you to art?
CJ My mom is a painter, but more importantly, she infuses everything she does with both attention to detail and play. Singing, telling stories, and making sandwiches could be a full production, so because of her, art has always been there.
What do you hope viewers take away from experiencing your work?
CJ I try to make photos with nerve endings – charged yet open enough for viewers to grab ahold of and bring themselves to the work.
Can you tell us a bit about your artists practice? Where does it often begin?
CJ There is research and foundational knowledge of who has come before me in the medium and in my subject matter, but I eventually have to cut myself off of the research stage, or I’ll go on forever without making. My practice is driven by simply making work. Intuition comes through the experience of laboring – the practice itself provides the experience. A lot of my work comes from an accident, then picking up on that accident. When I go to make work with a set idea or concept, I’m much less interested in the resulting images. I don’t want to know what I already know, you know? I want the work to take me somewhere or teach me something through making it.
Do any other interests influence your art? What are they?
CJ My mimi taught me to sew when I was very young, so I could ‘help’ her make my square-dancing costumes. Clothing as communication and a reflection of culture has always been interesting to me.
Do you have a favorite project or memory as an artist?
CJ In the first grade, I worked super hard on this collage art project. I won an art contest for the work, and my art teacher told me, “Chloe, this is very creative.” It’s this strong, flashbulb memory my brain holds onto. I believe this shaped ideas I hold about myself and my identity. Sometimes, I think about if I had won a science fair instead, would I be a scientist now?
What are you excited about next in your work?
CJ I graduate from my MFA program next summer and will have to produce a final show and a photobook. I’m currently down a rabbit hole of experimenting with different photo papers and bookmaking techniques and am loving it.
Introduction by Rachel Roberts
Interview by Kaitlin Morelock