The current series of portraits, Strong Unrelenting Spirits, are rooted in Ho-Chunk identity. I am extending the boundaries of photography by incorporating beadwork directly onto the photograph. The use of Ho-Chunk floral and geometric designs is a metaphor for the spirits of our ancestors who are constantly looking over us.
As a child, I went with my mother to see a Sioux medicine man on the Rosebud reservation. We sat on the floor along the walls with many other people, when the lights were turned off the women started to sing. They were asking for the spirits to come in, it was at this time that small orbs of light began to float around the room. I have visually incorporated this experience through beadwork, in order to give a symbolic representation of our ancestors and to present the pride, strength and beauty of my people.
– Tom Jones
A member of the Ho-Chunk nation, Tom Jones, explores the complexities and contradictions inherent in the representation of American Indians. His focus explores and interweaves the complexity of native identity and examines how distorted perceptions and portrayals of native culture have globally shaped the notion of what it looks like and means to be Indian. In all his photographic series, Jones does not speak to a single point of view but to the complexity of events, influences, and perceptions, past and present.
The photographs of Tom Jones are in the collections of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX; National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; Polaroid Corporation, Waltham, MA; Sprint Corporation, Overland Park, KS; Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; and Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL, and others.