Our Daily Bread
By Sean C. Jones
For the past 20 years as a public school art educator, I’ve asked my students to do a “Daily Drawing” at the beginning of class. I write a prompt on the board, usually silly, to help them begin. I tell them there is no wrong answer with the Daily Drawing; it is the act of doing a drawing that is important. In recent years, I have found myself defending the Daily Drawing to administrators who are unfamiliar with the value of visual language and the exercise of drawing. They often demand the Daily Drawing be tied to prior vocabulary learning, enforcing English classroom standards on a Visual Arts class, not realizing the act of drawing itself is tied to everything they have learned in class; the visual presence of line, shape, value, and form are concrete proof of understanding. It is not what they draw, it is that they draw.
Three years ago, I challenged myself with the idea of doing a Daily Drawing, every day, for an entire year. I made this challenge public by posting the drawings on the internet. At first, I felt a need to stress the content of these drawings with important messages or political commentary. I soon found myself tiring of the conceptual process and in danger of abandoning my challenge. I soon switched to pop culture imagery I would never have dared to do as my “real art” - these were just daily exercises; it is not what I draw, it is that I draw.
I met my goal of 365 consecutive drawings and continued beyond it. The process I use is very time consuming–traditional pen and ink. The Daily Drawings soon became the only art I was doing, and I worked very hard to meet my goal of posting them every day. I began to theme each month to specific content (“Nerdvember” was a month of science fiction, “My Hometown” was a month of my favorite Las Vegas landmarks). I had not factored in the community that was being created by posting these drawings on Instagram and Facebook. I began to receive messages from actors and artists who were the subjects of my daily, pop cultural obsessions. A writer from London asked to use one of my drawings for a book she was writing. I discovered other local artists were doing the same thing I was with their art or photography. We began to support and encourage each other. It was these fellow artists who convinced me to show these exercises in a gallery.
When I was asked by Nevada Humanities to curate a show of the Daily Drawings, I immediately chose local photographer, Ginger Bruner, to be included. Ginger had been posting the “Daily Frame” for several years; daily photographs of Las Vegas. Her work uniquely celebrates the Las Vegas that can be found beyond the Strip. I also chose one of my favorite local artists, Montana Black, and convinced her to begin her own daily drawings. Montana’s immaculate artistic talent, in exploring Western nature and roadside Americana, has always thrilled me. We all agree that the freedom of creating daily work has opened our work to subjects we may not have considered otherwise. It is not what we do, it is that we do it.
Sean C. Jones is a Las Vegas native. Jones has taught art in public schools since 1998 at all grade levels. Jones' art feeds on the collective memories of oversaturated popular culture. He works in traditional media to rescue the modern iconography from the glut of digital redundancy.
You can experience the work of Sean C. Jones in Ginger-Sean-Montana: Our Daily Bread—the current Nevada Humanities Exhibition Series—on display at the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery in Las Vegas through March 27, 2019. He curated this exhibition and is one of the featured artists participating the Our Daily Bread exhibition. This exhibition showcases artworks created by Ginger Bruner, Sean C. Jones, and Montana Black who have challenged themselves over the past few years to create an artwork every day.
Images/Sean C. Jones