Frederick Wright Jones, Assistant Professor, Sculpture
My multimedia works materialize the effort to define and redefine my placement as an American and global citizen. The experience of growing up with African, European and Native American heritage in rural Pennsylvania and then living as a foreigner in Europe, where I see varied levels of reconciliation with past atrocities, motivates my work. I still believe in the American melting pot, but not as a place of Benetton like harmony but as the vital reworking of social antagonisms, the cooking process of historical deconstruction. Much of my multimedia practice seeks to find the liminal space formed from racism and national boundaries, and to locate how notions of power, guilt, duty and entitlement define citizenship. This process acts through the analysis of the role of the historical figure creating and dissecting contemporary mythology. Aesthetically, I am inspired by folk art; merchandise packaging, underground comics and propaganda, repreparing pop culture and politics as a self-named cannibalistic gourmet chef. My works hold an ethical stance that hovers between dutiful responsibility and post-punk cynicism (see portfolio: “Fairytales Ain’t Always for Kids” series). My objects and installations work at the crossroads of function, play and ritual. I engage performance to bring to fulfillment each object’s function and potential and to transform the viewer’s role from that of spectator (see portfolio: “Strangefruit”) to collaborator (see portfolio: “NRAACP” series).