Tressa Jones: September 2019

Tressa Jones 

Tressa Jones is an artist and printmaker originally from Boston, MA, currently based in Pittsburgh, PA. She received her BS in Kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts, completed Post-Baccalaureate studies in Printmaking at New Mexico Highlands University, and earned a MFA from the University of Montana. Her travels and creative research, which include residencies at Kunstnarhuset Messen in Ålvik, Norway, the Vermont Studio Center, and research on the landscape and Land Art of the American West, fuel her artistic investigation of time: and its manifestations in the body, landscape, and built environment. Jones's studio practice is complimented by work at non-profit arts organizations and educational institutions. She has held positions at the Missoula Art Museum, Emporia State University, the Lawrence Arts Center, and currently oversees the Printmaking Studios at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Media. 

“My artistic research focuses on print media as a means to expose the passage of time and its consequential sensations of loss and absence. While investigating the physical and psychological experiences of absence, loss, and uncertainty I look to the body, and place. Translating marks of passing moments left on landscapes and built environments or of a body’s gestures allows me to make connections to the phenomena of time. 

Time manifests in print media through the multiple, labor, and delayed satisfaction. In order to emphasize the distance and absence that form as time passes I employ a muted palette and an elegant, minimal aesthetic. The works are two and three-dimensional, functioning best when dictated by the space in which they exist. By overtly aestheticising compositions I demonstrate a desire for order, logic, and control over the uncontrollable. The uncontrollable is synonymous with the work's continuous themes: the value of time and the inevitability of loss. “

Content Creation and Communications Coordinator, Jamie Earnest, held a short Q&A with Tressa to learn more about her practice and being a working artist in Pittsburgh. Read below.

Jamie: How long have you been working as an artist in Pittsburgh? What are the possible benefits you see as a working artist in the area?

Tressa: I arrived in Pittsburgh about 18 months ago from the Kansas City area. My partner and I moved here seeking an affordable, medium-sized, art-friendly city and have found Pittsburgh to be just that. The somewhat central location of Pittsburgh, and that it is within driving distance of many other cities is a great asset for Pittsburgh working artists. The landscape here is diverse, it is urban but with hills and rivers and many trees, which I find to be inspiring.

Jamie: There seems to be a color theme that is prominent in the work featured here, tell me about your use of the blue, green, and aqua spectrum in your work.

Tressa: My art is influenced by the spaces and places I inhabit. Before living in Pittsburgh I was living in the Western US for a number of years, New Mexico, Montana, Kansas. During that time I fell in love with the vast horizon, and the color blue. I use blues in in my work as a metaphor for loss and longing, which the open spaces of the West brought to my attention.

Jamie: What advice would you give to an emerging print media artist?

Tressa: Take advantage of print media’s professional networks. Printmakers are collaborative people and there are many local, regional, and international organizations with missions around connecting printmakers. Join these groups and go to the events and conferences. Many opportunities I have had are the result of people I have meet along the way, and I am so grateful for my awesome printmaker tribe.

Jamie: I encourage all readers to check out Tressa's website. You have an impressive resume with many awards, exhibitions, and lectures all over the country. Can you give any advice to Pittsburgh artists who are looking to exhibit and expand their practice outside of the city?

Tressa: In addition to opportunities I have had through professional organizations that support the arts I have moved around a lot. I know moving is not possible for many people, but I encourage artists to travel whenever possible, you will meet people along the way and it grows from there. Most artists want to support other artists, be collaborative and support your fellow artists.

Jamie: Finally, how do you feel that being a member of AAP benefits you as an artist in the region?

Tressa: When I arrived in Pittsburgh I only knew a few artists but joining AAP has exposed me to many talented creatives in the region and informed me of art events, it is an amazing resource.

Jamie Earnest