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Photo Credit: David Dietrich

Matt Jones (Primary)

Remote by Design

21st century
Medium & Support
Stoneware with wood-fired alkaline glaze
Object Type
Sculpture and Installations
Class System
Decorative Arts & Design
Class 1
Credit Line
Museum purchase with funds provided by 2015 Collectors’ Circle members Brian & Gail McCarthy and Nat & Anne Burkhardt
Accession Number
In Copyright

Matt Jones, "Remote by Design". Stoneware, wood-fired alkaline glaze. Two handled pottery jug. C-3PO design is on the vase.

Label History

Matt Jones Born Rochester, MN 1971 from left: Remote by Design, 2015 Absent Without Leave, 2016 Within You Without You, 2018 Stoneware with wood-fired alkaline glaze Clearly citing the Star Wars movies trilogy, potter Matt Jones uses familiar popular culture references to express his thoughts on the politics and economy of the times we live in. Images of robots like C-3PO and R2-D2 remind one of modern-day automation, Darth Vader is a metaphor for the corruption of the democratic system, and Stormtroopers are a standin for each person having to question their own narrative. The style of pottery Jones creates relates to traditional 19th-century forms and glazes from the Southern Appalachia and Piedmont regions of North Carolina. Museum purchase with funds provided by 2015 Collectors’ Circle members Brian & Gail McCarthy and Nat & Anne Burkhardt, 2015.33; Museum purchase, 2018.52.01; Museum purchase with funds provided by 2018 Collectors’ Circle members Jon & Ann Kemske and Brian & Gail McCarthy, 2018.45.01

Exhibition Title: Many Become one
Label Date: 11/2019
Type: Extended Chat

Matt Jones Untitled Stoneware, wood-fired alkaline glaze Museum purchase with funds provided by 2015 Collectors’ Circle members Brian & Gail McCarthy and Nat & Anne Burkhardt Established more than a decade ago in the Big Sandy Mush section of Leicester, Jones Pottery is the family business of potter Matt Jones and his wife Christine. Jones uses local clays, traditional forms and glazes, and a wood-fired kiln. Many of his forms reference the crocks, jars and jugs of 19th-century American traditions. Using local materials and decorative traditions, Matt’s work pays homage to a time when pottery played an important role in survival. Jones’ work is distinguished by skilled and imaginative slip-trailed and brush decorations, including precisely drawn plants, animals, abstract patterns, and most recently, verbal statements. Jones studied at Earlham College in Richmond, IN, and apprenticed with Todd Piker (CT) and Mark Hewitt (NC). It is important that my work is grounded in the Carolina traditions that go back 150 years, but I feel quite free to incorporate a modern sensibility and ideas from other cultures. I love that I know where my clay came from; that ashes from my woodstove are my primary fluxing agent…that a water-powered pulverizer turns my beer bottles into a glaze ingredient. –Matt Jones

Exhibition Title: Collectors' Circle: Celebrating Recent Gifts
Label Date: 12/22/15
Type: Exhibition chat label

This pot, and its panel, is a series of ideas that tie together well. The first panel starts with an old joke: “A robot walks into a bar and asks for a drink. The bartender says we don’t serve robots. The robot says, Someday you will.” Illustrated with Star Wars’ character C3PO, and the film’s tagline “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” Jones likes to mix pop culture references with traditional folk traditions. Commentary on robots and humans, as we design machines (robots) to serve our needs, to do the menial tasks we don’t like to do, humans are becoming distanced from the tasks that our robots/machines are doing for us. The second panel shows an illustration by John Steinbeck and the Grapes of Wrath, and Steinbeck’s commentary on the dangers of automobiles (human-designed machine), as a metaphor for banks (another human-designed “mechanism”), expressing the dangers of unfeeling machines (cars and banks) with no empathy for people. Jones also makes a nod to the over-dramatization of fear and hysteria engendered in America about communism. The third panel blatantly mocks the propagandistic nature of advertising; and accompanying “voiceover” text by the voice of Corporations/big Business – another kind of non-feeling, un-empathetic human-designed “machine.” Jones notes this is a cynical/extreme point of view, and somewhat tongue in cheek. The fourth panel illustrates the newest “robot” – the remotely operated drone, which is again, distancing humans from the drone’s assigned task or target (including military strikes and assassinations). As we utilize more and more machines like drones, humans become even more insulated and removed from what the machines are doing, and in turn become ever more dependent upon the machines to do for us. This results in a distancing from reality. Regarding the Shepard Fairey “Obey” image (childhood friend of Fairey), Jones has included this iconic image of Fairey’s in a number of works, as a symbol to fight against the propagandists out to bend the world to their agendas (the overlords). The bottom band serves as a balance and remedy to the cynicism above and is illustrated with ancient Chinese-inspired motifs. “Walk the dog” “Get some sun”

Label Date: 2015
Type: Acquisition writeup

Rooted in centuries-long traditions of North Carolina ceramics and a strong sensibility of pop culture and politics, Jones meshes histories past, present, and future in his wittily yet bitingly decorated vessels. The first of three in a series using themes from the Star Wars universe to comment on contemporary topics, Remote by Design contains imagery of C-3PO accompanied by bank logos, references to author John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and artist Shepard Fairey’s iconic Obey Giant graphic. These intermingling symbols convey the artist’s inquiry into the increasing presence and influence of automation and capitalism and whether these entities of so-called progress serve or exploit humankind.

Exhibition Title: Asheville Art Museum: An Introduction to the Collection
Label Date: 2021
Type: Catalogue Entry
Written by: Hilary Schroeder

Additional Images
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Photo Credit: Jordan Whitten
Additional Image

Photo Credit: Jordan Whitten
Additional Image

Photo Credit: Jordan Whitten


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