Robert Jones has been an assistant professor in the division of performing arts in the Farquahar College of Arts and Science since August 2012. Jones is originally from Northeast Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. Growing up his father was an English teacher and books were always at arm’s length.
Jones said that he became interested in storytelling through reading and watching movies and when he entered college, he either wanted to be a writer or movie director but was fortunate to do a bit of both.
Jones attended Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, a liberal arts school, where he graduated with a Bachelors degree in fine arts. He studied everything from writing and fiction to poetry and art. As a student, he really took a liking to photography and found he had a niche for black and white photography designs.
“Art was something that was always accessible to me. I watched a lot of black and white films and through movies I got interested in black and white film making,” said Jones.
Jones also found the support he needed from his family to study something that he really felt a calling for.
“Since my father was an English teacher he wanted me to go to school for art. He saw that I had talent and was open to letting me try out art,” said Jones.
When Jones graduated college, he was not sure what he wanted to do or where life would take him, so he continued to write and make short films. Jones made a living working as a freelance photographer and also a full-time graphic designer.
Jones said that even though graphic design was a good job and there was a lot of fun in the photography, it was still a struggle trying to find what career he really wanted.
After getting advice from a friend, Jones moved to Seattle, Washington where he was able to put his craftsman skills to good use by creating exhibition designs for museums. Jones worked for the Museum of Glass, the Washington State Museum, and the Tacoma Art Museum.
Due to his exhibition and movie making experience, the Washington State History Museum hired Jones as a full time documentary film maker. At the same time he also started teaching community college.
“It all happened at the same time. I got my dream job as a film maker and also discovered that I loved teaching,” said Jones.
Once deciding on a career in teaching, Jones attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and graduated with a master’s in fine arts.
Jones has been in Florida for less than a year but still sees that diversity of the Florida’s art scene.
“Art in Florida is so vibrant. It is certainly a hub for international art, and moving down here I expected that,” said Jones.
Currently, Jones and his students are working and collaborating with students from the university school on a public art project called Full Sails in Fort Lauderdale. Participants in the full sails art in public places event, create a design to decorate a sailboat sculpture. The finished sculpture will then be placed around the Fort Lauderdale business district to promote tourism and help build a sense of community in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.
“This project came up and the students really have made it their own. We are lucky to have gotten this opportunity,” said Jones.
Jones sees how interested and engaged his students are but also knows that deciding on an artistic career over something with more financial security can be a touchy subject.
“Ultimately you have to do what you love. I hope, in my students’ case, I am preparing them to be creative thinkers. A career in the arts is wide open and with the skill of creative problem solving it is possible to do very well as an artist,” said Jones.