Published on August 15, 2015. Interview by 2015 Summer Intern, Aly Hancock: Yolonda Jones is a Charlottesville photographer. I am excited to introduce her as the next participant in our 7x7x7 Series.
Name one of your favorite Charlottesville places to take an out-of-town visitor.
I am known to take my out-of-town guests to Citizen Burger on the Downtown Mall. Not too much pressure. Fresh ingredients. Vegetarian/Vegan options. Yummy fries. Cool scene. Inescapable walking and if you’re fortunate, al fresco dining options.
Who is one living human who inspires your practice?
There are so many. It feels wrong to name just one. But if I must and they can only be living, I will name my first child—my oldest daughter. She was the subject of much of my work when my husband gifted me with my first DSLR shortly after her birth. She was my first chief muse. Seeing my child and my life and the world from the perspective of ‘mother’ changed everything for me.
Explain your artistic work in seven words.
Honest. Sensitive. Evocative. Storytelling. Simple. Artistic. Honoring.
What role, if any, have mentors played in your artistic practice?
Certainly. I have been fortunate to gain access to great artists and shrewd business people here in Charlottesville and abroad. Many of these individuals have offered straightforward and honest critique of both my work and business practices, as well as they have inspired, affirmed, encouraged, challenged and supported me in honing in on my own unique style and artistic voice.
Describe your ideal environment for creative work.
For photography specifically, anywhere life is happening and I have a photographic tool of some kind handy to capture as I am moved to do so.
How has your practice changed over time?
To my pleasant surprise, it is now a considerable income stream, having taken on a life of its own where it was at first, just an art form that captivated me.
What would you like to see more of in Charlottesville to support artists in our community?
I’ve attended two SOUP events here in Charlottesville and am impressed by the idea of 1) a gathering of folks who may not have otherwise ever sat down at a table together over a tasty and relatively inexpensive meal in a beautifully decorated space; and 2) a seed money prize going to the crowd favorites picked from artists who have worked to plainly write out their visions as well as itemize the steps they’ve already taken toward seeing their visions manifest. So in short, I think there should be more SOUPS and more SOUP-like events, supporting serious artists in giving the world their unique cultural artifacts.
Yolonda Jones is a self-taught photographic artist in Charlottesville, Virginia. When she is not behind the lens, she is integrating into her life the formal studies she began at Hampton University and completed at the University of Virginia in Art, Philosophy, Religion, Social Science, Written Composition, Drama, and Business; working alongside her husband; home-educating, loving and cultivating her four children; cultivating and celebrating natural ethnic hair and beauty; making music; and inspiring folks to swoon over their own lives in words and pictures through blogging.
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