Large-scale sculpture of a horse is among works exploring the dynamic between humans and non-human animals

 Story and Photos by Cathy Carroll

Artist Selena Jones was busy incorporating materials found at the ranch into a nearly life-size sculpture of a horse in her studio at the ranch. It was the first time she’d ever done an artist residency.

“It has kind of been perfect, because they’ve been very generous with their space and there’s just so many materials they gave me — a lot of wool, and I’ve been able to find a lot of materials from around the area,” she said.

In her work, Jones, a native Oregonian who holds a master’s of fine arts in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, frequently focuses on the dynamic between humans and non-human animals.

“I like to make these creature-like forms, in very gestural forms,” said Jones, who lives in Oregon City. “I keep circling around the horse as a kind of an icon, especially a Western icon. I’m originally from Newport, Oregon, so that icon was always very important to me, and growing up I loved horses.”

Pine Meadow Ranch Arts Projects Coordinator Ana Varas introduced her to the book Staying with the Trouble, by multispecies feminist theorist Donna J. Haraway. The author wrote about provocative new ways to reconfigure relationships with the earth and all its inhabitants.

“For me, there’s some guilt in our relationship with other animals that I really want to explore through my art,” said Jones.

The piece she was creating during her residency is going to be a pull horse, which is typically harnessed beside the pole of a wagon, but this one will be attached to a wheeled frame so it can be moved around.

“I’m interested in the pull horse, the carousel horse, the (hobby) horse on a stick that you ride, and all those toys that capture this static moment and vision of this creature … and the relationship we have even with those objects,” said Jones.

The artist finally found time for a residency after completing a second master’s degree, this time in business administration, from University of Portland, in August. Jones concentrated on nonprofit management after working with several arts nonprofits in Oregon, and following several years of teaching sculpture, 3D modeling, drawing, digital art, graphic design, and creative research at several community colleges, universities and private schools, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also taught Western contemporary art in China in 2014.

As director of operations for the nonprofit Portland Piano International, Jones works full time to bring world-class piano performances to Oregon. She previously coordinated the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts and volunteers with an artist residency program in Oregon City and with Art in Oregon, which brings attention to Oregon artists. She serves on the Arts Commission of Oregon City, too.

Her goal is to turn her attention back to art-making, and recognizes that she’ll have to devote significant energy to marketing her large-scale works.

Her MBA studies offered insight into that challenge. She said, “If we want artists, how can we make their careers possible, and make it not just for a few very successful ones, but make it so that there are opportunities to grow the art and culture that we all want to benefit from?”

Published On: October 4th, 2022 / Categories: Pine Meadow Ranch, Pine Meadow Ranch Programs /