Being Matt Jones August 2012

Post One: Explaning some of the thoughts behind recent work  


Let's start with the King of Comedy

There is a Shakespearean reference here: "Alas Poor Yorick, He was a fellow of infinite jest..." from Hamlet.  All comedians, fools and jesters specialize in making the burden of life a little lighter, though like Yoric, they are doomed by their own mortality.  Comedy is a great way to adjust your attitude when you begin to take life too seriously, and this is a smart thing to do.  I know I am vain at times, and acting the fool or making a fool of myself is good medicine.  The role of the jester or comedian is made more poignant and heroic by the inevitability of death.  Death, the grinning skeleton, is destined to get the last laugh, so laugh now and laugh often.  Laugh at others and laugh at yourself.  Our days are numbered to be sure, so let us enjoy the show that is life while we can!  



 Face jugs have long fascinated me, and most of the ones I have made are inspired by those made by SC slave potters.  There is some transcendent quality they possess, a fierce dignity, that most contemporary makers trade for humor or the grotesque.  The one on the left is my attempt to make a feminine face work.  On the right is a visual pun: the OBEY face icon implies 21st century wage or idealogical slavery, and I have surrounded it with cobalt floral painting.  Obey (resist) traditional notions of ceramic beauty.


Pick your Poison!  Corn Whiskey, Corn Syrup or Aspartame.  I don't condemn any of these beverages.  I just think many Americans have lost touch with their will power or discipline.  "Freedom" is not about over-indulgence, but the right to indulge.  Over indulgence is actually a type of slavery, abetted by our economic system.  Whatever you want is conveniently everywhere, whether you need it or not.


This is a self-portrait that my son thinks is very funny: "That is so you Dad!"  The caption reads: "There's a Monster in the Milquetoast.  See Jeckyll run? He can't Hyde."



This is one of my favorites of this cycle.  It pairs Michelangelo's sad eyed Madonna and child with the Bob Dylan quote "Its all Right Ma, I can make it."  Michelangelo's madonna represents all mothers' struggle to accept that all children (not just Christ) are born to inevitably suffer and eventually die.  My own mother has worried neurotically about her children all through our lives.  I like this quote because although there are many more cynical lines in the song, "I can make it" seems to take these worries seriously while asking the mother to have more faith in the child.  I appreciate that the letter "g" in alright has been scarred by another pot leaning in and fusing to it during the firing.  The kiln has spoken: perhaps you can make it but not unscathed!

Point and counterpoint:  I have set an image of Geaorge Ohr, "the mad potter of Biloxi" as the antidote to the Obey face icon.  Where the giant asks for submission, George asks you in the words of Chuck D. (Public Enemy) to "fight the power."  George's wild hair mustache and personality all demonstrate his non-conformity in stark contrast to the vacant pleading of the imprisoned giant's visage.

George Ohr was not "mad."  He was free.  For the slaves of his world it amounted to the same thing.


Sometimes we fear the ideas in our own minds like we fear death itself.  Ideas can consume me and take me to strange new places that have always existed in my mind.  At times this can be uncomfortable or painful or confusing, but if I surrender to the idea and follow it to its conclusion, I am usually gratified by the process.  "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."