Five Women Artists – Fay Jones

Lotus Eaters painting by Fay Jones

Fay Jones; Lotus-Eaters, 1993; Aquatint; 31.5 x 43 in. Gift of the Washington Art Consortium through gift of Safeco Insurance, a member of the Liberty Mutual Group. Whatcom Museum Collection.

During the month of March, we are highlighting five women artists. The project is inspired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ “Can you name #5WomenArtists?” campaign. Next up is Fay Jones.

Life and Career of Fay Jones

Born in Boston in 1936, Fay Jones went on to receive her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1957. Later, she married fellow artist Robert C. Jones, and they moved to Seattle in 1960 with their young family.

While raising four children, Jones carved out a studio practice and nurtured a successful career, painting large-scale canvases in her living room.

In a video for the Russo Lee Gallery, Jones explains how she came to work with acrylics.

“I had a fairly traditional art school training, and that was oil painting on canvas,” Jones says. “And I could never make it work; I was much too impatient. The buildup of oil paint always turned to mud for me.”

She says she felt fortunate that acrylics came into the picture.

“I could paint over and over and over things and it didn’t turn to mud.”

Over the years, her works have been shown throughout Washington, Oregon, and California. The Portland Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, and the Tacoma Art Museum hold many of her works in their collections.

Major exhibitions include a 2007 retrospective at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, Oregon, and a 1997 traveling retrospective with the Boise Art Museum, among others.

In 2005, she was the recipient of the Twining Humber Award for lifetime achievement.


In the early 1990s, Jones began working with master printer Marcia Bartholme to develop limited edition prints, which includes Lotus-Eaters.

The piece entered the Whatcom Museum collection by gift of the Washington Art Consortium through a gift of Safeco Insurance, a member of Liberty Mutual Group.

Although open to interpretations, the title, which draws from Greek mythology, hints at feelings of apathy and indulgence as emotional components of an otherwise stylized scene, writes Amy Chaloupka, Curator of Art for the Whatcom Museum.

“Eschewing elements of perspectival space in her work, the depth comes from the complexity of characters and facial expressions outlined in bold line, graphic layers, and patterning,” writes Chaloupka. “The results are playful and dynamic narrative scenes.”

Want to see Fay Jones’ work for yourself? Lotus-Eaters is on view in the exhibition Anatomy of a Collection through March 21. The exhibition celebrates the works of art welcomed into the permanent collection since the Lightcatcher building opened 10 years ago.

You can learn more about a selection of works from the exhibition here.

Sources: Russo Lee Gallery, Whatcom Museum collection labels, Historylink, James Harris Gallery

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