I am an Artist: Jonah Jacobs

Jonah is amazing artist. He is exactly what Art is Moving is about!! Jonah thanks for reaching out to AIM and adding to the conversation. We would love for more artists to do the same.


Why are you an artist?

First of all, because I really enjoy the act of creating. Making art of course, isn’t always stress free, but more times than not I find it to be relaxing, joyous, and fun. I also really enjoy the sense of community I get from being an artist. I’ve met so many wonderful people, from fellow artists, to fans of art, to gallery owners. Art is also a way of sharing, a way to give back to the world. The most important reason I am an artist though, is because I want to share with others the sense of awe and wonderment one can get from gaining a greater understanding of nature. Hopefully such understanding leads to not only a greater appreciation of nature itself, but I also hope that with understanding comes an appreciation for life in all its manifestations. Being an artist therefore is about expanding humanities sphere of understanding, increasing our emotional depth, and educating people about possibilities which prior to our imagining them, were unexpressed.

Is there a concept behind your work? If so, please tell us about it.

For many years now I’ve been fascinated by the structure of nature. Cezanne talked about the sphere, the cone, and the rod, and how such shapes are used in nature. Before I came across some of his ideas though, I was already experimenting with how basic shapes such as a rod, or a tube as I like to call it, can be used in mass to create complex structures. In my own art I’ve been amazed at how a few basic shapes and colors, when repeated over and over, lead to harmony and complexity. I believe there is an ordering principle inherent in biological organisms which ultimately leads to beauty. In using simple principles and shapes, I try to replicate the structural reality of nature, and hopefully do so in a manner that is pleasing to the eye. Instead of painting a bush or tree in a landscape, I want to understand how it is put together. I want to understand what shapes make up its structure and how and why does the replication of those shapes seem appealing or beautiful to us. Those are just some of the questions my art tries to grapple with.

Why do you use the medium that you use?

I use a lot of found objects and recycled materials as building blocks for my organic looking compositions because the idea of them being used in a manner outside of their norm fascinates me. Imagine a world where instead of nature reclaiming our human made spaces, our junk comes alive, assembles itself into organic looking structures, and then creeps across our human made world reclaiming all that we have built. What would such a world look like? Can we mold it into something of value and beauty or will we and our earth simply be overcome by our waste?

The tension between nature and our trash and how each shapes our environment is a battle which unfolds daily, yet we hardly pay attention to it. Largely because most of our trash is quickly whisked out of view and sent to landfills. But what if our trash, and household goods, were infused with new meaning? What if these materials were taken out of there normal context and used to make beautiful organic looking structures? I think using such materials to create beauty is the next logical step in how we look at recycling. So far, recycling has focused mostly, but not entirely on practical matters. More and more though, artists are using such materials to make beautiful pieces of art and like myself, to draw attention to our natural world.

Would you consider yourself an Eco-Artist?

To a degree, yes. A lot of my material is stuff that otherwise would end up in a landfill. But I don’t want to give the impression that my art is made from one-hundred percent waste material. I still have to buy a fair portion of my supplies. And since I use a lot of dyes and acrylic spray, I am a bit nervous calling my art earth friendly. I like to think my art focuses more on potential. I am trying to educate people about the possibilities of waste materials and to highlight what I feel is the inherent beauty and wonderment of the natural world. I have a lot to learn of course and am always looking for ways to reduce what I have to buy for my art versus what I find and recycle. I am also constantly pushing the limits of whatever material I use. Doing so gives me a greater appreciation for the types of material I use and it also gives me knowledge as to their limits.

Why do you use found objects in your art?

Because I think it’s important as an artist to take things out of their normal context, manipulate them, and then recast them as something new and different. Doing so points to new possibilities, opens up our imagination, creates new meaning, and creates new aesthetic possibilities.

There seem to be two sides to you as an artist; what do your “creatures” fulfill that your mixed media pieces do not, and vice versa?

The creatures started out as a fun way to use recycled paper, for they were originally painted on paper that was headed for the trash heap. Mostly though, the creatures were just a whimsical side project. I no longer make them except as gifts for friends. My main focus has always been on transforming space and creating large scale installation pieces.

Where do you see yourself as an artist in 5 years?

Hopefully, I will be fortunate enough to be able to create ever larger and more complex installation pieces. My ultimate goal right now is to transform an old unused and dilapidated building into a large scale installation piece. I would like every room and even some of the outside walls to be covered with organic looking artwork made from surrounding recycled materials. Honestly though, such an undertaking is impossible without the support of others. So in order for me to expand as an artist, I ultimately have to engage with and create a community of like minded individuals who have a similar vision or at least would like to participate in the many art projects I have plans for.

What are your ultimate goals as an artist?

To continue to push the boundaries of the materials I work with. To explore the possibilities and limits of new materials. To increase the percentage of recycled materials I use in my art. To educate others about the structural components of nature and the aesthetic possibilities of waste materials. To use my art as a community building tool. And of course, to create ever larger, more beautiful, and complex organic looking structures.

What does art mean to you?

So many things. Art is discovery. Art educates. Art opens us up to possibilities. Art on many levels is experimenting with new ideas, perceptions, and means of communication. Art is self expression. Art preserves and expands our humanity. Art grapples with beauty, harmony, discord, chaos, symmetry, and hundreds of other concepts. Art is about building communities. Art buffers us against the cruelties of the world. Art is self soothing, joyous, and sometimes frustrating. Simply put, art is one of the core ways we go about understanding ourselves and our world.

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