ALTON - Danny Jones’s art is incredibly personal, and that’s what makes it relatable.
Jones, a barista who formerly worked at Maeva’s Coffee, has returned to Milton Schoolhouse as the September Artist of the Month. Their paintings and collages take on different subjects and styles, but each one is colored by Jones’s experiences. Still, there’s an honesty that every viewer can relate to.
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“Art is this way to get a message across to where people can interpret it in different ways,” Jones said. “Throughout time, different generations can extract different meanings from it, and that’s all very valid even if it’s not the artist’s original intent. I always think it’s important, especially for queer artists, to get out there and be seen.”
True to their word, Jones was excited to display their multimedia art at Milton Schoolhouse, though they admit it’s “intimidating” to have so much of themself out in the open.
Jones returned to art during the COVID-19 pandemic after a long hiatus, but they’ve always loved art and could often be found drawing in class during high school, even creating a regular comic series for classmates. In recent years, art has become a cathartic way for Jones to express themself, especially as they discover more about their own identity.
“It was kind of just a hobby that I would do off and on,” Jones explained. “But then I was finally starting to open up to myself a bit more with my queer identity and everything, so that kind of flourished into opening up more to just everything. So then I was like, I should really give my art a chance and actually pursue it.”
While acrylic paintings and collages are Jones’s preferred mediums, they’ve recently expanded into costume making and music. Jones explained that their art is often based in their emotions or even struggles as someone who has PTSD and depression. Creating art is a way for them to make sense of those experiences.
“A lot of my feelings, to me, are very abstract, and so whenever I can put them into a piece, that really helps me get it out there and better understand it,” they said. “And once I do a project, I pretty much am able to move on from it after that. I don’t linger too long on anything specific.”
While personal experience plays a big role in Jones’s work, they’ve been pleasantly surprised to see their art resonate with so many people. This vulnerability can be challenging, but they hope their work provides meaning or comfort to those who need it.
“It just kind of feels cringy to me to put it out there, but I just have to keep telling myself this might have value to someone,” they said. “Just for people to feel less alone in those moments, because I found that art very important when I was going through those moments.”
By embracing their own creativity, Jones has also gained a deeper appreciation for others’, especially artists like Lady Gaga who specialize in performance art. Jones hopes that people can approach all art with an open mind and willingness to search for deeper meaning, including their own pieces on display at Milton right now.
“I want people to not just look at the surface level, to actually sit with it a little bit, think about it more,” Jones added. “And I think that can help create a bit more empathy between people to be like, ‘Oh, this isn’t just them being weird. This is actually meant to say something. There is a meaning behind this.’”
To see more of Jones’s art, stop by Milton Schoolhouse this month or follow @dannyinsanni on Instagram.
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