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Artist ID: 2228

My work reflects a nature that is voluptuous and beautiful, but also confrontational and sinister. Predators are camouflaged or at rest, their lonely idyll an invitation aslant. The worlds I create within my paintings highlight the peril of the wilds, the claustrophobia of unattended growth, but they also urge one to tumble in, to throw off caution and niceties and give in to the excesses of life without constraints. A tiger bathes in a pool or emerges from a dense canopy with the offer of a languid freedom only found in the solitude of the terra incognita.
Life on the Gulf Coast is fraught with consequence. We have hurricanes, tornadoes, mold multiplying underneath floorboards and vines pushing through walls, foundations sink and sidewalks buckle. The land here is aggressively active in trying to keep humans at bay. What we have created is not natural or sustainable. If we stopped hacking back the overgrowth and shoring up our homes, this place would fall back into the gulf--which feels like on a small scale what is happening on the planet as a whole.

My work reflects this. The landscape is a protagonist, its obscene lushness often choking out the creatures that inhabit it or a surprise force sweeping through that must be reckoned with. There is beauty to be found in the madness but that distraction could lead to one being swallowed up.

I explore themes of chance, beauty, claustrophobia, and escape in parallel to my experience of the world. My methods juxtapose precision and pandemonium, leaning on the medium of painting to transcribe a dance between intention and loss of control. Through an exploration of the relationships between predator and prey; big cats, snakes, and water birds are metaphors in a narrative of belonging and solitude; rest and risk. I create tiny worlds that allow the beast, both inner and outer to pause, and find stillness.

Civilizations and empires are lost, choked by their own desires and schemes, but nature reimagines itself and carries on, twisting its tentacles around what once was to create what will be.

Michelle Jones earned her MFA in painting from Massachusetts College of Art in 2005 and a BFA in painting from the University of Mississippi in 2002. A native of central Mississippi, Jones spent eleven years in Boston and made the journey back South in 2014. She resides on the Gulf Coast with her husband and daughter. With its sweeping vines, clutches of hanging moss, and mix of live oaks and palm trees, life in the deep south feels a bit like living in a jungle and is a direct influence with her most recent works.

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