When considering what to write about this small body of work, ‘frozen energy’ came to mind. Though the characters are graphically illustrated and bold in their own way, they also have a subtle vibration to them, a visual humming. There’s a psychedelic pulsation, like in that tipping point right before the acid kicks in, visually they are both coming together and simultaneously melting apart. In their compressed, classical portraiture size, the materials feel frozen in time, like a fossil, they are solid and yet somehow, they still have a softness to them, like you can feel the viscosity of the plaster and the wetness of the paint - alchemy preserved.
These pieces began as portraits to explore characters for larger works but they have become a body of work in and of themselves. There’s Death in the room, a smiling Devil, a young Phoenix rising, multiple Savoirs. There’s an intimacy to the relationships, a unique synergy. This exploration has led to a dynamic force between me, the characters, and the materials. We spend a lot of time together prior to my solidifying them all in hydrocal. I draw on them, cut them out, talk to them, dip and arrange them, flirt with them, finesse them, argue and laugh with them. They tell me when it's time to cast. I feel as if I am not in charge, they are very particular.
It's hard to fight with them - I don't really want to, I like being told what to do and the material directs me. Casting often feels like a natural disaster is hitting the piece - when it feels like everything has gone to hell and the piece is ruined. As I cover each section, I am praying that the materials make it through to the other side. Then we wait. It's when 'the thing' happens. They don't let me see how they do it. I'm not allowed in for this part of the journey; the things I couldn't have predicted. The way the plaster solidifies the liquid acrylic into frozen tie dye or picks up an old drawing line on the rubber mat. Some moments are swallowed up into the hydrocal and others emerge out of nowhere - I don't see how it happens - that’s part of the thrill. It's where I let go and they take over. It’s through this surrender that the real action takes place - the pleasures of energy.
Erin Lee Jones (b. 1972)
Erin Lee Jones is based in New York, NY and her work has been featured in prominent galleries such as; Farenheit Madrid; Safe Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Regina Rex, New York, NY; Songs for Presidents, Ridgewood, NY; and Alleyoop Projects, New York, NY.
Inhale the Transparency, 2021
The ostrich recurs often in my work. More often than not the ostrich is me - it's a self portrait of sorts. The torso references both a kids pj shirt with a skeleton print and an xray. It’s both opaque dressing and transparent xray seeing through. The rib cage references the breath. The piece was originally inspired by a Pompeii mosaic floor from 1st c AD, as well as a little drawing by Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell.
Waves of faith and energy, like the love of a dog, 2021
The muse for this piece is a late 19th c antique paper mache stool from the UK. In the shape of a bulldog, the seat looks like a 'cap'. The dog's spine is part of a series of drawings I've been working on trying to illustrate the energy that flows through the spine. There is a coil of tin foil energy going up the spine. The orbs over his head are like an antenna transmitting and receiving in a sci fi/tinfoil hat way - they also read as a kind of halo.
Paper Mache Devil, 2021
Paper Mâché Devil is inspired by another Mexican paper mâché mask, a Red Devil. This piece is a study for 2 larger pieces I am working on, a 'Devil Woman' figure & a quilted, appliqued inspired piece. I’m trying to get just the right expression for the Devil Woman and really like where this series is going. Again, like the Death portrayal, not thinking of the Devil as all evil. There’s a playfulness here - a devilish smile. I am thinking about the devil as destruction personified - we need destruction - you cannot have creativity without destruction. In the process, I’ve been trying to work on a way to get a faux paper mâché feel and I think this piece is really capturing that matte red paper like feel.
Second Guardian, 2021
Second Guardian was originally inspired by a bronze shield boss of Acheloos (Greek river god) mask, from Tarquinia (now at the Vatican museum) - late 6th c B.C. He is holding lambs inspired by a medieval mosaic in the Basilica di Saint Cecilia in Rome. And the pants are inspired by a 19th c American quilt. The guaridan is walking a tightrope, he's defying gravity and the 'road' is precarious but he seems strong and steady. The lambs are a bit silly and I think of him as a bit of a savoir carrying them across.
Awakening (in Bode trousers), 2020
This piece is inspired by an anonymous anatomical drawing from the 1700's. The pants are fashioned after Bode trousers from their S/S 2019 collection. I loved these pants when they came out so much so that I made my own by putting them in this piece. I am inspired by Emily Adams Bode’s way of working, finding antique and vintage textiles that she incorporates into her designs. I find a thread of similarity in the way that I work. Collecting vintage and antique images and putting them in my work. The spine and ribcage is also important in this piece. Thinking about spine building and energetics. The spine is made from towels dipped in paint and I like how they look kind of squishy like bone marrow vs bone - soft spine. The other partial skeleton I think of as the kiss of the soul. There's an energetic exchange happening - an awakening - there's a tiny infinity symbol within the vertebrae of the spine on the right.
ERIN LEE JONES: THE PLEASURES OF ENERGY