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Visual Arts Department’s “Visiting Artist Series” kicks-off with a Visit from Graphic Artist Sabrina Jones

On Monday, November 11th, the Visual Arts Department debuted an exciting new series of visiting artist lectures and workshops in the Upper School. The goal of the visiting artists series is to introduce our students to artists working in a variety of mediums, styles and subject matter. Our visiting artists will present and discuss their work with the greater community during collection time, as well as sharing insights about their studio practices, research process, influences and more with some of our students who are currently enrolled in art classes.

Sabrina Jones speaking to the Upper School at Collection

Our first visit with graphic artist Sabrina Jones proved to be informative, relevant and fun. An alumna of Germantown Friends in Philadelphia, Ms.Jones is an artist who is motivated by Quaker principles and a desire to use her work to educate viewers and readers regarding issues of social justice through her “politically engaged comics” and graphic novels.
While visiting BFS, Ms. Jones spoke at Upper School collection and also met with four different Upper School art classes. During her class visits, she discussed her creative process and led short art exploration exercises on how to develop characters and create contexts for comic book/graphic novel panels. Ms. Jones discussed her career development, noting how she grew as an artist throughout the years. She shared with students how she evolved as an artist, from studying painting at Pratt to earning her MFA in illustration from School of Visual Arts, to discovering her love of utilizing historical research in her artwork while working on Wobblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World with radical historian and comics editor Paul Buhle. She then went on to collaborate with Buhle on books about Isadora Duncan, Studs Terkel, FDR and the New Deal, Yiddishkeit, Bohemians, and Radical Jesus.

During her collection presentation, Ms. Jones shared work from her graphic retelling of Marc Mauer’s Race to Incarcerate. Published in 1999, Mauer’s original book is noted as an essential text that discusses the exponential growth of the U.S. prison system and presents extensive data to support the need for a criminal justice reform movement. Ms. Jones discussed the fascinating process of collaborating with Mauer to adapt and update his original book into a graphic novel. Ms. Jones took the students through her creative process, discussing how she converted pages of data and facts about the prison system into an engaging visual and verbal narrative. Ms. Jones discussed the challenges of visual communication, showing students exactly how she translated these seemingly abstract facts into accessible illustrations and ultimately, created connections with a broader audience. Upper School students expressed being impressed by Jones’ in-depth presentation and her commitment to using her artwork to communicate these important issues.

It was a fantastic day of discussing art, the creative process and issues of social justice — As well as a great way to “kick-off” our new Visiting Artists Series!

Limited copies of Sabrina Jones’ book are still available for sale through the BFS library at a discounted rate of $11. To learn more about her work, please visit http://www.sabrinaland.com/

Sabrina Jones with 11th grade IB Visual Arts students