Mary Jones

Mary Jones is a New York based artist. Her paintings and drawing are known for their striking use of color, their complex beauty and their understanding and reflection of our contemporary world. Her inspiration comes from the boldness of NYC street graffiti to Abstract Expressionism in step with the urban phenomena of layered time and experience. Her work has been shown internationally and is included in prominent collections worldwide.


Where do you live and what is your background?
I live in NYC. I’m originally from North Carolina, and I got my BFA and my MFA from the University of Colorado in Boulder. I began my career as a painter in Los Angeles and moved to NYC in the 80’s. I also teach art, and currently teach at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R. I.

What medium do you work in and why?
Where do I start? Oil, watercolor, ink, acrylic, X-rays, wallpaper, spray paint, collage, gold and silver leaf, and more. Painting is an exploration for me, and the materials morph and change with the metaphors.

Does your work explore any particular themes or fascinations?
There are several themes that weave through my work. One is the theme of perception itself, the feeling of a moment of insight, a flash of recognition before language forms. The other is the body, the semblance of human form through the implication of gesture and shape, I want the painting to speak to and through the body.

Talk us through your practice and process.
I begin very loosely, concentrating on the light and nuance of layered colors, often pouring the paint on. Later, I’d end up scraping down and sanding the surface of the painting. There is easily as much destruction as construction in these early stages. This goes on for an unpredictable amount of time, a week, or sometimes a year. I’ve learned to be patient. I keep working intuitively until I see the semblance of a form that guides me, a reference to an imaginary artifact, a trace of a body. I can then finish the piece around this composition.

If we were to walk into your studio what would we find?
Me. My studio is a truckload of work in progress, with everything at hand. Paint piled on a knocked together table made from scrap lumber. Canvases in stacks along the walls and on the floor. A plaster bust of a woman from 1919, an upholstered chair from India designed by Babuji Shilpi, 200 marquee letters from an abandoned movie theater. A plant that is strangely alive. Brushes. Pencils. Paper. Books. Music. Work.