Katelyn Jones walking in front of an abstract painting hanging on a wall

Katelyn Jones

Art Historian. Curious Rebel. Small-Town Hero.

Katelyn Jones

Art Historian. Curious Rebel. Small-Town Hero.

On Finding John Singer Sargent, and Herself

Katelyn Jones, BA ’20 (art history), had never stepped into an art museum until she came to the UO and visited the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. A first-generation student who transferred from Idaho, where she was studying anthropology, Jones came to the College of Design to pursue a degree in art history.

“Everyone should be exposed to art because it opens up conversation around identity and politics and race,” Jones said. “If I were to have any impact, I would want to increase the accessibility of art.”

Art history also appealed to her, Jones says, because it weaves together various fields, be that philosophy, politics, literature, or the sciences.

Jones points to the research of her adviser, Assistant Professor Nina Amstutz, which investigates how the history of biology is reflected in the paintings of artist Caspar David Friedrich.

The Department of the History of Art and Architecture awarded Jones the Gloria Tovar Lee Scholarship for Most Promising Student in Art History, which helped fund her first international trip—the Art History in London study abroad program in summer 2019. While visiting the Tate Britain gallery, Jones discovered the work of painter John Singer Sargent, who became the subject of her thesis.

“I want to look deeper into Sargent and how he uses fashion to explore 19th-century identity politics,” Jones said. “By painting contemporary fashion, Sargent said a lot in support of the women’s dress reform movement. It’s a stamp of the modern women.”

In early 2020, Jones, who is also in the Honors College, received the Humanities Undergraduate Research Fellowship. This was supposed to help fund another trip—this time to see the largest collection of Sargent’s work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as well as famous pieces such as “Madame X” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Due to COVID-19, however, the trip was canceled.

“I have still been able Skype with [Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings] Erica Hirshler of the MFA Boston, who was so generous to talk with me about my project and the upcoming Sargent exhibition at the museum,” Jones said. “Thankfully the Met and the MFA Boston have some amazing digital resources that have kept me occupied.”

She added that her partner felt bad about the trip cancellation and purchased a large reproduction of one of her favorite Sargent artworks, “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.”

“I now get to wake up to Sargent every morning,” Jones said.

Katelyn Jones
Jones in the College of Design’s Lawrence Hall
Painting of Lady Macbeth
‘Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth’ by John Singer Sargent
Katelyn Jones taking a selfie
Jones on her 2019 study abroad trip to London
 

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