Black Hills Artist Feature: Making the Connection

Kathryn Jones hasn't always been in the Black Hills, but growing up, she spent many vacations in the hills with her family. From Norfolk, Neb. Katie recently moved to the Black Hills and has been here going on three years now. "The Black Hills will always be a part of who I am, and will always be home," Katie shares.

Using art as an expression, Katie really connects to her subject matter. Whether it's an abandoned building or a broken window, she is able to find a relation or reflection of herself. Recently she has been focusing on the rural area of the Black Hills and the landscapes and scenes that they have to offer. That being said hers aren't the traditional landscapes you'd expect to see from Ansel Adams or any other nature/wildlife photographer.

Her Journey to Here

Katie never expected to pursue art as a career. Even in high school, she had made the decision to go to college for psychology. Katie was only in her late teens when she first owned a digital camera other than her phone. In today's society, it's becoming easier to claim yourself as an artist and photographer with advancing technology in cell phones, but Katie recognizes that she had a lot of work to go before she claimed the title of a photographer and artist. "After a family trip to Moab, Utah where I only took photos on my cell phone, my parents invested in a camera for me," she explains. "Ever since then, I fell in love with [photography]; my main subject was sunsets when I first started."

During her first semester at Black Hills State University, Katie wanted to continue doing photography, at least on the side. Taking a basic photography class that brings students out of technology and back to the world of film and darkroom photography, she knew she had to change her career path and continue down the road of photography.

"I love that I can freeze time," Katie says. "Through a photograph, you're able to relive a moment just by looking at it, and you can say, 'hey I was there,' or 'I did that;' you get the opportunity to relive an extraordinary moment."

Most of Katie's recent work consists of still life photography. "I wouldn't necessarily say I chose the subject matter; while I don't mind shooting people, right now I connect more with buildings and objects in their organic place," she explains. Katie says that whether she's aware of it or not, often times she feels like she's looking at herself in her subjects. Talking about her project, "Just Me and the Windows," Katie says that she appreciates relating to her subjects and being able to self-introspect or reflect on them.

Fun fact: Katie also works in alternative processing. She has a passion for film photography and experience with cyanotypes, Van Dykes, and more. "I love working in the darkroom and the look of film; it's so much cleaner. I know they say digital prints can last longer, but I love the archival permanence of film," she shares. View some of those works, here. "My first film camera was given to me by my Uncle Tom. He gave me an old Nikon film camera that he obtained while teaching at the University of Illinois."

Discovering his work in a class about color photography, Katie became inspired by William Egglesten. She says, "I loved his philosophy on taking one image - you either have the composition, or you don't." Being introduced to more color photography allowed Katie to branch out of the black and white she had been so focused on during her first year of college. Another leading inspiration comes from her parents.

Exhibits & Awards

Having only been practicing art and photography for a handful of years, Katie's determination and go-getter mindset has really paid off. From the start of her journey in continuing her education with photography, she has been exhibited several times locally and nationally. Here is a full list of her achievements:

  • 2018 | Ruddell Gallery, Group Exhibit | BHSU

  • 2018 | Photographer's Gallery, Group Exhibit | BHSU

  • 2019 | Ruddell Gallery, Group Exhibit | BHSU

  • 2019 | Photographer's Gallery, Group Exhibit | BHSU

  • 2019 | President's Gallery, Group Exhibit | BHSU

  • 2019 | Dahl Mountain Art Show, Group Exhibit | Dahl Arts Center

  • 2019 | "Just Me and The Windows," Solo Exhibit | Emerging Artist Gallery | Dahl Arts Center

  • 2019 | Published in Three Peaks Review Literary Magazine

Click each to see full size individually; pieces from the "Just Me and The Windows" solo exhibit

  • 2020 | Dahl Mountain Art Show, Group Exhibit | Dahl Arts Center

  • 2020 | "Walk About," Group Exhibit | Midwest Center for Photography | St. Louis, Mo.

  • 2020 | "Just Me and The Windows," Solo Exhibit | Rapid City University Center | BHSU

  • 2020 | Published in Three Peaks Review Literary Magazine

  • 2020 | "Proof of Life," Online Group Exhibit | Dahl Arts Center

  • 2020 | 6th Annual Online Group Exhibit | Davis Orten Gallery | Hudson, NY

Katie has a total of three pieces in the two volumes of Three Peaks Reviews Literary Magazine. The publication is a new addition for students at BHSU to get involved in. In the latest volume pictured above, Katie's image is displayed on the cover.

Artist Advice & Future Goals

While Katie's main medium is photography, she also works with watercolor and line work. With this additional artwork, she still finds a way to connect to her creations; Katie has also dabbled in painting with acrylic and oil in the past.

Photos provided by Katie Jones of a few of her watercolor/ink pieces. No Titles.

Whether it's a memory or reflection of inner or societal conflicts, each piece she makes has a deeper meaning. Learning new things every day herself, Katie wants any young inspiring artist to know they can do anything if they keep their focus and ignore what people tell you. "Don't stop creating," she says. "If your heart is in it and you have the passion for it, just go for it and go head first!"

After Katie obtains her degree from BHSU, she plans to pursue her masters in photography. Her end goal is to teach photography at the university level. "The faculty at Black Hills State [University] really inspired me to want to teach," she smiles. "My professors and classmates have always pushed me to do better and be the best I can."

Katie recalled one specific moment where a classmate really inspired her to do good. After a class period, student A (name withheld), approached her. He showed her a print he made and said, "I was really inspired by your artwork and I wanted to recreate it with my own twist." That moment spoke a thousand volumes for Katie, to know that she was able to already make an impact on young up-and coming artists.


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