Richard Jones' recent show, Only Connect, is a challenging exhibit. Though this is his second show in our cooler space, the thoughtfulness in each of his pieces always impresses me. This level of care and attention to detail goes beyond what I consider reasonable in my own work, which inspires me to push myself even further.
The large structure Jones constructed in our cooler space was built specifically for the room. Small openings cut into the shell reveal the construction in limited cones, relying on multiple viewpoints to assemble a complete picture of the charred city within. In doing so, Jones has made internal conversation, or, preferably, conversation with one another a necessity to form understanding. As such, these ideas are not solely mine. Not by half.
Jones’ use of material as metaphor enchants me. While an artist working in glass might create mirrored surfaces, the use of literal mirrors is interesting, and feels especially poignant in this context. Through the inclusion of found mirrors and other such objects in his wall work, I see Jones drawing a direct connection to self reflection. Using found objects creates the impression that this is an assemblage of memories, artifacts, and remnants. His altering and augmenting of them creates a dream-like space; a location that becomes inhabited by everything you bring into it, filling the gaps with your own context and understanding. Although Jones has left ample room for the viewer to draw their own conclusions about his installation, it seems clear that he has a profound concern for the health of the environment and the earth we live on.
When I approach Only Connect, I feel a sense of loss, and of warning. I’m an optimistic person--almost to a fault. No matter the situation I encounter, I can’t help but see it for the benefits it may bring. This isn’t to say that I don’t acknowledge tragedy, but that I think that the universe has a tendency to drift from pain to absolution. Only Connect feels to me an acknowledgement of the potential for human tragedy in the situation we find ourselves in.
I take great comfort in the idea that if we manage to destroy ourselves, in some flight of idiocy, madness, or malice, the Earth does not need us. It should be entirely selfishness that we try to recover. We could potentially cause a catastrophe so large that all it leaves is the burned husk of our civilization, setting the evolutionary clock back millions of years. Still, no fire yet has burned so hot or so long that the plants, microbes, and fish haven’t found a way back.
If we really want this relationship to work, we should probably start trying a little harder. Unlike us, the earth could move on.