Create Greenville: How did you end up in Greenville? How long have you been in your current studio?
Erin Jones: I grew up in Greer, SC and attended Greer High and Fine Arts Center for theater, and attended the Governor’s School for the Arts summer program at Furman University. After graduation, I attended Stetson University in Florida, where I double majored in theater and visual art, and received top honors in both fields. I came back to the upstate to attend Clemson University for graduate school where I received my MFA in 2003. I moved to Greenville after school, and I have been in my current studio at Gallery 1279 in the Pendleton Street Arts District for almost 5 years.
CG: What’s your background? Were you educated in art? Did you study ceramics specifically?
EJ: I grew up in a very artistic family, and was encouraged creatively all my life. In college, I began as a theater major, and took a clay class my sophomore year, and realized that ceramics was my true calling. I then attended graduate school at Clemson University for my MFA with a concentration in ceramics. I taught art at the college level for a couple of years, taught pottery on cruise ships, waited tables on an island in Maine, and worked in a health food store, during the years after school and before starting Erin Jones Studios 2 years ago.
CG: How much time do you spend in the studio?
EJ: I average 40 hours/week, but as ceramics (and running a business) has different cycles, sometimes it’s less, sometimes more. That time is broken up into many tasks- I spend about half my time teaching lessons, then another half working on my artwork, marketing, and general studio work like loading/firing kilns, cleaning, pricing, display, etc. I would like to spend more time actually creating, but there are so many tasks demanding my attention, it’s difficult to carve out the uninterrupted time.
CG: Does your work have any recurring themes? What motivates you? Any favorite artists you follow or look to for inspiration?
EJ: Like many artists, I look to the natural world for inspiration. The body and mechanical forms are also reference points. My work tends to be process oriented. Many times, just the process of making the work is it’s own motivation and inspiration. It has a sort of snowball effect, and one piece informs another. Often, I will discover a new technique, or acquire a new tool which leads to a different direction. In a practical sense, I am motivated by a productive week in the studio, by sales of my artwork, by a show deadline. Artistically, looking at artwork by others is inspiring for me, and I try to keep abreast of the latest trends by reading magazines, blogs and other media related to my field. I look to many of the historically important ceramic and sculptural artists who came before me for inspiration, as well as the ancient pottery artifacts of early people, such as the Pre-Columbian civilization.
Another major influence for me is sharing a studio with my partner and boyfriend, artist Jason Hall. Jason was also educated at Clemson, where he received his BFA in ceramics. Our constant contact and shared passion for clay and art has been transformative for my career. We are continually encouraging and supporting each other in our goals, as well as evaluating and critiquing each other. This type of support is rare for most artists, who tend to work in solitude.
CG: Where is the Greenville art scene going? Have you seen it change since you’ve been working here? What can we do to make the Pendleton Arts District grow positively?
EJ: I see the arts in Greenville growing quickly. It seems to be gaining momentum especially in the last several years, as it becomes nationally recognized for it’s art scene. I have been working in the Pendleton Street Arts District (PSAD) for almost five years and have seen artists come and go for the district, but there is a continual energy there that the artists are creating. The amount of artists working in the district has more than doubled in the time since I have been there, and the Pendleton Street Arts Business Association (PABDA) meets every month to promote the artists of the district. We work with the city to draw attention to the district, clean up the area, organize events and generally promote ourselves. The more Greenville becomes aware of the PSAD, and visits regularly during events like First Fridays, the more the district will continue to grow.
CG: Anything else you want to say?
EJ: Please visit Erin Jones Studios online at www.erinjonesstudios.com, or in person at Gallery 1279, 1279 Pendleton St., Greenville, SC 29611. Please call Erin at (864)350-9420 for an appointment.