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5 Things We Learned... Phillip March Jones



Phillip March Jones and I share similar life circumstances - we grew up in the same area of Kentucky, attended neighboring high schools, lived in France in our early 20s, and built out-of-the-box art careers. We didn’t meet until last March, but I’ve admired (unknowingly) Phillip’s work since 2009 when he founded Institute 193, a non-profit contemporary art space and publisher, in Lexington, Kentucky. The small but impactful space adds much needed diversity to the local art scene and showcases artwork created by Southern artists.

Phillip is an artist, writer, and curator. He served as the inaugural director of Atlanta’s Souls Grown Deep Foundation and director of both the Galerie Christian Berst (New York / Paris) and the Andrew Edlin Gallery (New York). In 2019, Phillip will curate the Atlanta Biennial (Atlanta Contemporary) and serve as consulting curator on Way Out There: The Art of Southern Backroads at the High Museum of Art. His photographs and writings have been published by the Jargon Society, Vanderbilt University Press, Dust-to-Digital, and Poem 88, among others. He currently oversees Institute 193 (1B), a collaborative project space recently launched in New York’s East Village.

Here are 5 Things We Learned about Phillip.

What made you...you?

A complete unwillingness to let reality get in the way of doing things

When are you happiest?

My mind is always pushing me in different directions, and that state of initiative is how I am most comfortable. What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?

Would you rather have a muse or be a muse?

I don’t think I would be comfortable knowing I was someone’s muse—better they keep it to themselves.

Who do you admire?

I’ve always admired artists who pursue their vision tirelessly, without any expectation of reward – financial or otherwise. I remember the first time I met Jessie Dunahoo, a blind and deaf quilt-maker from rural Kentucky, and watched him sew scraps of fabric, plastic bags, and other found remnants into tent-like constructions strewn about his house and studio. He worked on them for 6 – 8 hours a day, enthusiastically, deliberately, and for reasons the world will never know. He is the kind of artist that keeps me up at night.

What is important?

That’s something I think about a lot these days – how to navigate and make sense of a world that rewards the mediocre and eschews the truly great in favor of what can be more readily commodified. In that vein, I think it’s always important to keep pushing: putting forth new ideas and raising up people whose voices might be otherwise drowned out in the endless dialogue around interchangeable content.

Clear as mud?

Follow Phillip on Instagram @phillipmarchjones and check out Institute 193 and 193 (1B) at www.institute193.org

Images from left to right: Portrait of Phillip March Jones by Guy Mendes; PMJ, Untitled (workbook pages), 2013, Gouache, ink, and pencil on paper. 5.5 x 7 inches; Portrait of Jessie Dunahoo by PMJ, 2010; PMJ, Untitled (Roadside Memorial Polaroid), 2006 - 2010, Polaroid 600 photograph, 3.5 x 4.25 inches; Cleome volunteer in Lexington sidewalk; Various PMJ workbooks at home