Julian Jamaal Jones: Take Me Back
January 5 @ 8:00 am - March 24 @ 3:00 pm
The abstract textiles and works on paper by Julian Jamaal Jones for his exhibit Take Me Back glean fragments from the songs, poetry, sounds, and his feelings for the Black church experience of the 1990s. The exhibit opens Jan. 5 and runs through March 24 at Tube Factory artspace. Chief curator, Shauta Marsh, was instantly drawn to the works, seeing an element of emotive storytelling in the abstract pieces — something that is quite unique.
Jones studied photography at Herron School of Art and Design then moved to working in textiles while working on his MFA at Cranbrook “His works are reverent. And, although Jones is tapping into a personal experience to create the works, the understanding and appeal of the works is universal. The desire for belonging and finding it through shared myth. The works speak to us all,” says Marsh.
Marsh felt it was important to have the voice of a curator who witnessed the change of mediums and the change in the artist. So Marsh and Jones asked Kat Gotfnett, Assistant Curator of Collections at Cranbrook Art Museum, to write about his work and what she sees in it and him. Cranbrook Art Museum recently purchased his work.
From Kat Gotfnett: “Home” often exists not as a structure but in spaces of community steeped in mutual reverence and a sense of belonging. In Take Me Back, Jones harnesses his nostalgia for one such place – the Black church of his youth. Growing up in the outskirts of Indianapolis during the 1990s, Jones navigated predominantly White spaces, making the church a sanctuary for him to engage with and celebrate both his religion and his Blackness. The church of Jones’s youth provided an atmosphere for creative inspiration and self-determination rooted in community, spirituality, and strong sensory experiences. In his first hometown exhibition, Jones channels his personal memories and nostalgic pangs into a new body of work that honors “the old Black church.”
In Jones’s quilts, he reimagines the traditional art form through the artist’s unique verbiage, drawing on improvisational styles of Black expression found in gospel music, as well as expressive abstract art. Gestural graphic drawings, which are foundational to his textiles, incorporate jewel tones and bold, animated markings. These drawings physicalize Jones’s emotional landscape as he recalls the spirit of the Black church, its fashionable congregants, dressed up for worship, and the Gospel choir’s coordinated robes and soulful, revelatory harmonies. These energetic renderings serve as an intimate yet abstracted record of the artist’s embodied experience with transformative spiritual and cultural forces.
Jones’s invigorating textiles further tap into the multisensory experience of church, introducing a more explicitly tactile element that also alludes to fiber as a medium connected to the body as a material of comfort and identity. Additionally, many of Jones’s quilts are created at an immersive scale recalling the grandiosity of religious architecture, the textiles adorning sacred spaces, and mesmerizing walls of stained glass. The work is partnered with pews sourced directly from a church, furthering the aesthetic church experience to bring viewers fully into fellowship with Jones through this reimagined sanctuary.
Through abstractly reconstructing a bygone spiritual moment through ancestral modes of expression, allusions to a sacred space, and celebration of Black culture, Take Me Back expresses the artist’s longing for not only a space, but a profound feeling.”
About the artist: Julian Jamaal Jones is a multidisciplinary artist and educator born and raised in Indianapolis, IN. Jones received his Bachelor’s degree in Photography in 2020 from the Herron School of Art + Design (Indianapolis) and a Master’s in Photography in 2022 from Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI), under the tutelage of Chris Fraser. Jones was the recipient of the 2023 CICF Artist Ambassadors Travel Grant, awarded ArtsConnect’s “Artist to Watch” in 2022, the recipient of the 2022 Playground Emerging Artist Fellowship, supported by the Knight Foundation and the recipient of the prestigious Museum Purchase Award from Cranbrook Art Museum in 2022. Jones’s works are in the permanent textile collections of Cranbrook Art Museum (Bloomfield Hills, MI), Richmond Art Museum (Richmond, IN) and The Book Tower Detroit (Detroit, MI).
Photo :Untitled, 2023, Photo collage from Julian Jamaal Jones’s personal collection
Opening reception: Jan. 5, 6-10 p.m.
Artist talk with Julian Jamaal Jones and Kat Gotfnett, Assistant Curator of Collections, Cranbrook Museum: March 23, 1pm
Closing reception: March 24, 5 p.m.
This exhibition was made possible by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Ruth Arts Foundation, Herron School of Art and Design, Arts Council of Indianapolis and the City of Indianapolis, Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Efroymson Family Fund and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.