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Art Museum's next 'Art Up Close!' to discuss S.L. Jones

John Henry by S.L. Jones

A carving by West Virginia artist S.L. Jones will be the topic of the next “Art Up Close!” at the Art Museum of West Virginia University on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Presented by Eve Faulkes, coordinator and professor of graphic design in the WVU School of Art and Design, “S.L. Jones and John Henry: Vernacular Folk Art and Graphic Design Storytelling” begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Museum Education Center Grand Hall and is free and open to the public.

Faulkes will discuss Jones’ carving of Henry, a legendary folk hero. As a steel-driving man who worked on the Big Bend Tunnel for C & O Railroad, he challenged the steam-powered drill and won the contest but lost his life as a result. Henry lives on in story and song.

“What do folk artists as storytellers have in common with graphic designers trying to tell the same story,” Faulkes asked. “How does each study the cultural differences between their own life experiences and one of a life 100 years prior of a different race, class and point in our state’s history... and one who is such a legend that his actual existence is in doubt?”

A railroad worker by trade, Jones took up woodcarving again in retirement and is regarded as one of the most important of the Appalachian wood carvers. The people in his drawings and carvings are easily identifiable by the characteristic almond shaped eyes and smiling faces painted in flat colors. His art is in the collections of the American Folk Art Museum, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Faulkes received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and WVU, respectively, and has been teaching graphic design and book arts at WVU since 1979. Her work has been exhibited in China, Italy, Germany, Canada and her artists books are in many collections across the United States.

Art Up Close! events are held several times each year and present WVU faculty and guest artists from various disciplines discussing a single work of art from the perspectives of their disciplines. The events are co-sponsored by the Friends of the Museum, a membership group for people who enjoy the arts and social, educational and cultural activities revolving around art.

For more information about the program on Feb. 21, contact the Art Museum of WVU at (304) 293-7790.