black and white sketches and pens on a table

3-D Studio Demo Artist Helen Jones

Helen Jones will be in the 3-D Studio demonstrating architecting space October 28-29.

Helen Jones is a practicing architect, sculptor, and instructor, at the University of Colorado, School of Architecture and Planning.

Megan Farlow: What will you be demonstrating at the Denver Art Museum?

Helen Jones: I will be using a series of models to explore form and physical space for a specific site.

Utilizing tools I have developed as a sculptor about form and space, coupled with the concepts in architectural practice to investigate how a design become a building. I will be looking at the site analysis for a specific project, showing techniques for understanding space and form, in the creating of the build environment, through the use of massing models, form models, and flick books.

Megan Farlow: Can you talk about your background a little bit and the importance of it in regard to your work?

Helen Jones: I am English. I was born and raised in the east end of London, where I studied sculpture and woodworking. My exploration of space led me to look more specifically at how people behave or interact with art, and specifically sculpture. My early work examined “void,” for example a door threshold.

a sketch by Helen Jones

We generally don’t view it as a space, as it is just the negative space that the door occupies when it is closed. However, extruding that space to be longer in depth offers a different experience as you pass through it from one side to the next. This eventually led me to architecture, as my work got larger and began to explore special experience, on a larger scale.

Megan Farlow: How do you bring your thoughts on space to your work in architecture now?

Helen Jones: How people operate in space is at the forefront of my mind when I first engage in a project. Whether I am exploring the needs of an athlete entering a rehab facility or how an office employee approaches their workspace, all aspects of the built environment are designed. This often goes unnoticed, but if you have ever tripped up a step or had trouble finding the front entrance of a building you’ll understand when design goes awry.

Megan Farlow: What inspires/influences you?

Helen Jones: Inspiration for a space usually comes to me when I am not specifically trying to solve a problem. Riding my bike is a great example of this. I have had many ah-ha moments on the Cherry Creek bike path commuting to and from my studio. Our physical environment has a great impact on our mood and our ability to think. Big thought is best achieved in lofty spaces, so somewhere with high ceilings helps. Also, I am a people watcher by habit. Observing how people move through a space reveals the shortcomings and successes of a given environment, giving me food for thought in my future work.

Megan Farlow: Lastly, do you have a favorite architect/sculptor?

Helen Jones: Donald Judd has been a favorite of mine for a long time. His large-format work speaks to the delight that can come from ambiguous scale. It is often difficult to understand their physical size from a distance. However his earlier, gallery-hung work infused the use of negative space and light/shadow play. I still find this thought provoking to this day. So I am delighted that the DAM has one of his works!

Megan Farlow was a studio and artist programs intern in the department of learning and engagement at the Denver Art Museum. She enjoys the museum’s American Indian art collection, especially works by Jeffrey Gibson.