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Six Questions with Artist Jonpaul Smith

New Harmony, Indiana (June 26, 2019) – Continuing our Artist Interview Series, we are featuring the talented artist Jonpaul Smith.

Jonpaul Smith approaches his woven and constructed paper pieces from a variety of perspectives but common to all are the processes of disassembly and reassembly. His materials can be his original traditional and non-traditional prints, paper ephemera, and the packaging of everyday household items. No matter what material he chooses, the process begins with cutting the materials into strips of various sizes, then painstakingly overlapping or weaving them into meticulous, intricate compositions. His complex, tapestry-like constructs, make use of (and, in a sense, refine) pop culture imagery.

What art supplies do you usually have on you, in your bag or in your car?

The gathering of materials, ideas, inspiration and etc., happens anytime-anywhere. Allowing oneself to be open to inspiration from the innate and mundane of this man-made and natural world is a huge draw for me. Thanks to the modern world I always have a phone in my pocket. Which means I have a camera, gps tracker, note taking device, etc. I am also very prone to picking up scraps of discarded or found paper ephemera everywhere I go. If you pay attention during your day you will realize how much paper and printed material crosses your path.

What artist’s work takes your breath away?

I have always been very inspired and moved by the work of El Anatsui. His use of found and discarded materials which are painstakingly wired together into gorgeous tapestry like objects truly speaks to me. I have also been intrigued by the quilts of Gee’s Bend. Their strong geometric patterns and their use of textile materials at hand (e.g., used denim, flour sacks etc.) to create beautiful contemporary works are inspiring.

How much time do you spend creating each day?

I like to keep business hours in my studio, a true 9-6 workday in relation to the production of my work. This schedule changes with the ebb and flow of daily life but for the most part it is what I maintain when possible. However, the many steps of gathering information, inspiration, sketch booking, and other such avenues of my creative process have no set hours. Much like the time required with each work/show is different.

Who did you inherit your love of art / artistic talent from?

It comes from an unbroken line of creativity on my Mother’s side of my family, including my Mother. There have been many creative forces in my life driven by my surrounding. Growing up in a small town in north central Indiana where craft is appreciated has given me an innate interest in art versus craft, and the dialog inherent to that discussion. As a child I always admired and watched my mother create beautiful things. The blending of traditional craftsmanship with modern technology surrounded me. My family also owned a liquor store and I was inundated by the resulting consumer packaging at an early age. I found the process intriguing of how my father would display the products to the masses in organized rows and detailed color grid patterns; consequently, making me acutely aware of peoples’ brand loyalty.

Do your friends and family hit you up for free art?

Who doesn’t hit you up for free art might be a better question. It is not always just the artwork itself. There are nonprofit boards, being asked to be judge for an art show, giving free workshops or gallery talks, visiting schools, etc. With that said, you can pick and choose what interests you. I also see it as a contribution to the greater art community, which can always use more support.

Have you ever traded a piece of art for something?

I have traded my art many times. One of my favorite aspects of being an artist is the “artist trade”. Being able to swap a piece of art with someone whose work you respect is an amazing feeling. Your work in their home and vice versa. As a printmaker, it is perfect that most the time we produce editioned work which facilitates the artist trade.

Jonpaul Smith is represented by the Mason-Nordgauer Fine Arts Gallery in New Harmony, Indiana. See her work in gallery or online at www.mnfinearts.com.

More about the Mason-Nordgauer Fine Arts Gallery: A true urban art gallery in the middle of beautiful, historic New Harmony. The Mason-Nordgauer Fine Arts Gallery specializes in post-war, contemporary and urban fine arts… as well as an always changing “museum store”. Their collection rotates constantly and includes local / national / international artists who are pushing the boundaries of art (or have no boundaries). Don’t miss their amazing selection of investment pieces too.. Banksy, Max, Warhol and others. For more information, see them at 510 Main Street, New Harmony IN, social media or www.mnfinearts.com

January 17, 2019

Six Questions with Local Pop Artist Mary Ann Michna

June 29, 2019

Carleton Wing