Harold Jones

Harold Jones, Aaron Siskind, Happy Valley, Arizona, 1978. Gift of the artist.
©1978 Harold Jones. 81.14.1

Harold Jones (born 1940) has contributed to photography as an artist, educator, curator and arts administrator. Born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1940, he graduated from the Maryland Institute with a BFA in Painting and Photography, and from the University of New Mexico with an MFA in Art History and Photography. After graduation Jones worked as an assistant curator at the George Eastman House and in 1971 became the first director of LIGHT Gallery in New York City, the first gallery to exclusively represent contemporary photographers, such as Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer. In 1975 Jones became the founding director of the Center for Creative Photography and then went on to start the photography program at the University of Arizona where he taught for the next 30 years. Presently he is professor emeritus and volunteer coordinator of the Voices of Photography oral history project at the Center. Jones continues to be a constant student and practitioner of photography.

Harold Jones’s photography is difficult to categorize, and there are no generalizations that satisfactorily describe his varied body of work. His original training in painting and photography led to a practice that Jones referred to as “photodrawings” – gelatin silver prints worked with a variety of hand-colored surfaces. Over the years, Jones used ink, food coloring, and oil paints as well as a variety of chemical toners to produce effects that range from subtle to direct. The resulting images are unique and cannot be duplicated. Initially he was ambivalent about altering the surfaces of his prints, feeling that it was an impure practice, but ultimately concluded that creating the photograph was the first phase of drawing, and surface treatments and coloring constituted the second phase. Jones’ approach has varied even within his unaltered prints. He has worked with both multiple and long-duration exposures to capture motion. Jones’s subjects are everyday objects arranged in compositions that require viewing and re-viewing. The photographer has described his delight in the process in which a person moves beyond a superficial reading of his work for closer inspection. His images reinforce the idea that a world continues beyond the picture plane; that one is seeing a fragment of a larger whole. Although he often photographs mundane objects, such as a water tower or laundry hanging, his unusual vantage points or unexpected cropping, produce a range of effects from humor to mystery.

The Harold Jones Archive contains over 150 prints, including a number of unique photodrawings, correspondence, biographical materials, teaching and exhibition files, records of the Society for Photographic Education, publications and clippings, and ephemera covering his career. Correspondents include Robert Heinecken, Jim Alinder, Robert Fichter, Beaumont Newhall, Jerry Uelsmann, and many others. An archive highlight is: University: A Photographic Inquiry, 1984-85: a 2-volume maquette from a project titled Universe City, containing 44 gelatin silver prints and 3 color prints. Jones’s career can also be studied at the Center for Creative Photography through the LIGHT Gallery archive.

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