The work of interdisciplinary artist Symantha Jones revolves around a theme we can all relate to on an intimate level these days: home.
Based in South Florida, Symantha recently completed her MFA at Florida Atlantic University. There, her research centered around the correlations between memory and home, culminating in a body of work that has become especially poignant in the wake of the pandemic.
“My work, which is specifically about the memories created in and around the idea of home, rings true as we sit in our houses visiting with our spectral memories — good and bad,” the artist explains. “Time becomes unstuck as we lose track of hours, days, and weeks, and memory overlays reality in strange ways.”
For our Daydream Artist Series, Symantha created a piece inspired by “the idea of being carried away in a daydream.” Read on to view her work, take a peek inside her creative process, and uncover the meaning behind her own daydreams.
Q: What's a perfect daydream look like to you?
Symantha: I imagine living in a house at the edge of the woods. Opening the back door and slowly walking through a lush garden I’ve grown, with herbs, vegetables, and roses. I go on towards the woods at the back of the house, where there is a meandering pathway through lush trees, lined with stones I’ve placed from my previous walks, velvet moss growing, and feathery ferns. The deep green smell of the forest envelopes me, and the soft light through the dense greenery filters through, dancing on the path as a breeze moves leaves and branches. I can finally breathe deeply, without worry, and rest.
Q: What things do you consider part of your "artist's toolbox" of inspiration?
Symantha: When I am starting a piece, I often look through my materials, and allow them to speak to me. I collect bits of paper, boxes, scrap wood, and anything else I might use later. They all hold memories of their own, and that’s what I’m looking for in folds, marks, and flaws. As I examine them, I allow an image to develop from this physical history.
When I am not working, I am constantly reading and looking at art, architecture, and anything weird. I also constantly have movies on in the background, mostly horror and science fiction, to turn off my conscious mind and allow the work to happen organically.
Q: When are you most creative?
Symantha: I have creative energy all the time, but I find that first thing in the morning is best for thinking and writing. Afternoons and late evenings are great productive times for really digging into making. I tend to have a lot of projects going on at once, which allows me to bounce between them even if I only have a short period of time to work. Grad school has really taught me the necessity of being productive even in small moments.
Q: If you had three rules to live by, what would they be?
Symantha: Creatively, I would say: 1) You can make anything if you put your mind to it. It may not be perfect or proper, but it will be unique and have value because YOU made it! 2) You will never accomplish anything if you don’t start it! Thinking about an idea and planning is necessary, but often you just need to dive in, take a small step, and break the seal! 3) It is essential to give yourself time to think, rest, and digest your work. The most dynamic solutions only come through this process. Write about it, describe it, talk about it with someone, then let it go. The rest will follow.
Q: Tell us about your process and inspiration behind your artwork piece.
Symantha: For this project, I have created a new piece in my Inescapable Moments series. They are a series of wandering thoughts and memories made manifest in the form of crawling houses that meander away from home. This seemed like the ideal form for a daydream that captures and carries the dreamer away, looking out into misty reveries, unreal, bright, and crystalized around the edges. If My Thoughts Had Wings, I Wouldn’t have to Crawl, 2020. Reclaimed cardboard, wire, hot glue, acrylic mediums, acrylic paint, gouache, and mica. 11.5” x 7.5” x 8”
Q: What is your daydream and how can people feel inspired to daydream during these tough times?
Symantha: If My Thoughts Had Wings, I Wouldn’t have to Crawl is about the idea of being carried away in a daydream. I was inspired by the thought that all of us are stuck inside, to greater and lesser degrees, trying to protect ourselves and be safe within our homes. We want to escape to the lighter worry-free realm of imagination, but this mundane scary reality brings us back to earth. Distractions are ineffective when so much is happening, and so we just wander in a dream-like haze somewhere between worry and reverie.
It’s so difficult to daydream right now, for me as well! It seems like every social media channel is screaming “Do Something!” and “Learn Something!” when we need to rest, recover from all the craziness, and mourn our loss of normality. I’ve found that rest, meditation, and morning walks (if you have a safe place to do so) have been super helpful. Read that book you’ve been putting off, doodle on some scratch paper, or watch some bad ‘80s movies, in short, do something that you don’t have to put energy into, that you can relax into, and let yourself rest.
Q: How can the community support you during this time?
Symantha: You can contact me and view my MFA thesis exhibition, Whispers from the Ghost House, on my website. Help support me through Patreon and get a closer look at what I’m doing, as well as rewards. Follow me on Instagram for all kinds of photos and to see what inspires me. Thank you!