Teaching at Knox has been an eye opening experience for artist Mary Jones.
“Teaching is the best way to learn how to do something. I had to review my research and write about it in order to make it inviting and understandable to students,” Jones said. “The other thing, which has come as such a pleasant surprise, I have learned so much from the students here from their thought process, from their sense of adventure, from their excitement.”
Jones has joined the art department for Winter Term to teach a class on printmaking. She has found Knox and the Galesburg community a great place to foster creativity and for students to grow within.
In her own artistic career, Jones has found herself based mostly in the Midwest. The familiarity that she found in Galesburg was a big part of helping her feel comfortable and settling in.
Her printmaking class focused on her concept of deep mapping, the investigation of a place to learn what transformed it into the place it is today. She has found herself and her students able to form a deeper connection to the town of Galesburg and the community in which they reside.
“Galesburg has such a rich history in so many regards. Students have been really excited about deep mapping Galesburg, finding some piece of it that has meaning for them, and that they will take with them,” Jones said.
Jones finds that a lot of her own artistic process centers around walking and being able to explore new places like Galesburg.
“This community is just the right size to wander around and find all kinds of surprises. I walk everywhere. Walking is the basis of my deep mapping and this is a great place to walk,” she said.
Her love and passion for art was one that was fostered in her childhood and was something she found she wanted to pursue later in life. What led her to pursue printmaking in particular was her experience with it during a college art course.
“It was the first art course that I took in college that was hard. Part of it is that there are many different techniques to master and it took a lot of time,” she said. “Also, printmaking by necessity means a shared space. It was the first time where I was really forced to communicate with the other artists and look at their work and their process. It was hard, so many failures came before success and somehow I needed that challenge in order to consider it a worthwhile activity.”
Another aspect of printmaking that drew Jones in was its ability to bridge the gap between graphic arts and fine arts. It was also something that allowed her to explore her other artistic interests in drawing, photography, collage, writing and the use of found materials. Because she is able to use so many different mediums to influence her work, the things that she gets inspiration from play into many of those.
“Lots of time I will observe people and spin a story about who that person might be, where they have been and what sort of journey they might be on. I look at buildings in the same way,” Jones said.
Although printmaking is something that she enjoys working with and exploring, Jones recognizes that it’s proclivity for failure has some setbacks.
“The outcomes in printmaking are often not what was intended, but it’s a good life lesson,” she said.
Working in Galesburg has allowed Jones to explore many of her interests outside of the art she creates such as writing and jazz music. She has found that the community surrounding the school is very welcoming.
“Knox faculty and Knox students are just really interesting people, they have a variety of interests, they’re friendly. Everyone here has been so nice,” Jones said.
Jones has found that the Knox community is having an profound impact on not only the work that students have been creating, but on their lives which is something that should be valued.
“One of the things that I’ve talked about to students here is that most of you are nomads in a sense,” she said. “You will probably be here for a while and you use Galesburg as an important piece of your life, Knox in particular, and you will leave impressions on the community and it will leave impressions on you.”