Kellie Jones on Diversity in Art

Artist Kellie Jones Creates Her Own Art Diversity Field

Sometimes the best way to make people notice art work is to do it yourself. Such is the case with Kellie Jones.

Dr. Kellie Jones is a professor and art expert who has been recognized as one of the MacArthur Fellows this past week as one of their “genius” names. Jones has spent a large portion of her lifetime devoted to challenging what many consider to be whitewashed narratives of art history and hopes to have artists of color thrown into more conservations and into canon. Her lengthy career includes working at Columbia University, namely in the Department of Archaeology and Art History, but only as an associate. She has also served as a curator for groundbreaking artworks that feature many artists and artworks of color.

In a recent interview with Jones, she spoke on all of her past accomplishments and any plans she may have for future endeavors, including what to do with a grant she earned from the MacArthur Foundation. She first stated that she grew up in East Village, or rather the Lower East Side of Manhattan and that art and culture were a huge part of her whole life, even when she went to the music and arts-base high school in the area. Being a child of the 70’s, she also mentioned that even in school she always noticed that ancient Egyptians were the only diversified peoples being represented in textbooks, which was commonplace at the time. Things have changed since then and now there is a ton of contemporary art out, with artists such as Lorna Simpson, David Hammons and others who can freely express their work.

Jones also mentioned that she had a wide variety of mentors who helped her along the way, such as Al Loving, Jack Whitten and Howardena Pindell. When Jones was growing up there was no such field for African American art but once she got to college she took it upon herself to create her own field and be a pioneer of sorts, creating her own major in the process. It was a medley of both African and Latin American studies and when she created that she got her ph.D and taught it in classrooms.