Kelly Kristin Jones

Kelly Kristin Jones, “His smile didn’t reach his eyes,” 2019, archival pigment print, 20 x 30 inches [courtesy of the artist]

This text originally appeared in ART PAPERS Fall/Winter 2020, Monumental Interventions, as part of a special dossier highlighting seven artists who have fought—and continue the fight—to transform their public spaces by uncovering suppressed histories, resisting oppression, and telling formerly silenced truths. 



Using the camera as a demolition tool, Chicago-based artist Kelly Kristin Jones redacts existing monuments from her photographs, offering the potential for something new in a reclaimed landscape. Jones diminishes the power of stone and steel structures by removing their likeness, physicality, and materiality, leaving only a subtle, lingering imprint of their existence. Her work intervenes upon the historic claims of both photography and monuments to convey objective truths, revealing the contradictions and falsehoods of such claims. By using the darkroom method of dodging, and the performance of physically wrapping monuments in new imagery, Jones obliterates the permanence of extant, contested monuments and offers a glimpse of their sites set free.

Dodging Tools is a series of photographs that depicts various monuments. In each image, the monument in question has been obscured by a dodging tool—used in darkroom processes to edit photographic prints. Where the monument would appear in the photograph, there is instead only a soft white void.

Coverings is a body of work in which Jones wraps statues in printed photographs of the surrounding landscape or architectural backdrop. She then rephotographs the site of the newly obscured monument. The resulting images have an irreverent humor, which, in its playfulness,
pokes fun at the existing monument’s assertion of power.

Blurry, white circular shape on a pedestal at the edge of grassy field

Kelly Kristin Jones, Dodging Tool #23, 2018, archival piezographic print, 20 x 30 inches [courtesy of the artist]

Kelly Kristin Jones, “The Division,” 2017, archival piezographic print, 40 x 60 inches [courtesy of the artist]

Healing Tools uses Adobe software’s editing brush of the same name to “heal” landscapes plagued with problematic monuments. This digital correcting tool is typically used to remove discoloration or blemishes from an image by covering them with new pixels that erase these flaws. The tool is designed to match the lighting, transparency, and shading of the original image, but it inevitably leaves scars and glitches in the composition. The resulting prints appear, at first glance, to be vast and banal urban and rural landscapes but are in reality the subtle results of Jones’ healing. By neglecting the identity and locality of these monuments, Jones allows the antiquated structures to fall into obscurity while acknowledging the irreparable damage they caused in their decades of existence.

Kelly Kristin Jones, Dodging Tool #5, 2018, archival piezographic print, 20 x 30 inches [courtesy of the artist]