Sculpting conversations: Kim Vose Jones’ exhibition at UNB Art Centre

Stills of Kim Vose Jones wildlife sculptures for her Cirque de Vice and Lifeboat: An Unnatural History. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

UNB Art Centre showcased a thought-provoking journey through an arts exhibition, where sculptures challenge perceptions and spark conversations between the audience.

“Sometimes the work may appear beautiful but sad, or humorous at first glance but disturbing upon the second. If my art does evoke emotions and thoughts, that would be great,” said Fredericton-based sculptor Kim Vose Jones.

Until Dec.14, UNB Art Centre is presenting two exhibitions: Cirque de Vice and Lifeboat: An Unnatural History, unveiling the artist’s desire to explore the human condition and its impact on the planet.

Vose Jones said art became her way to struggle through some big questions related to the human condition and environment.

“This work isn’t didactic, it is presenting meditations on social, humanitarian and environmental issues that I struggle to unpack- but I also want to seduce the viewer into thinking, in their own way and in their own time, about uncomfortable aspects of life and our footprint thus far.”

Her art evokes moments of reflection in the audience. Vose Jones said through her research, she continues discovering complexities, leaving her art to the viewer to interpret and start a conversation.

“My art doesn’t have one message.”

To her, these two exhibitions are different but linked, because they both represent the outcome of several years of research and reflection.

“Time,” Vose Jones said, is the challenge she experiences while working on her pieces of art.

“It’s always a challenge and a blessing. I do spend years researching and making. Each piece often takes hundreds of hours to create. I make everything by hand.”

Vose Jones said Cirque de Vice came first and is based on the seven deadly sins through contemporary lens. She was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s Retrospective and Garden of Earthly Delights, medieval paintings depicting sin.

“What does greed, gluttony, lust, pride, anger, envy, laziness look like in the face of injustice? Can they be separated?”

She said the circus theme in the sculptures is fun but “with its hidden underbelly of exploitation.” This idea became the lens of her work.

Vose Jones said Lifeboat: An Unnatural History represents transitional danger and migratory flight — in all their contradictions.

She said this project started with a personal story but took it further, making her later reflect on injustices that make the population be forced to move and “refugees and seekers of better lives.”

“The pandemic served as a heavy reminder that we are all on the same precarious planetary boat, which we need to figure out how to navigate,” said Jones.

She chose materials that express themes she is working on and contrasting elements. Vose Jones added she enjoys applying symbolic references.

“I love combining expensive, traditional material with found objects, shaking up the notion that art should be a collectible commodity.”

She said she sees herself as an artist who contrasts “contemplation and reflection.” With these layers, she explores complex and often uncomfortable themes.

“My work is deliberately open to wide interpretation. Art doesn’t necessarily need a comfortable, conclusive interpretation,” she said.

”Art can be a challenge.”