John Obafemi Jones was born in Ellaville GA on October 29th 1950. John’s parents Willie and Ethel were sharecroppers as were their parents. Seeking better economic opportunities John’s parents migrated to Brooklyn, New York where by the age of five John began to exhibit a talent for the arts. John often performed in a gospel quartet at local churches with his siblings. John’s junior high school art teacher noticed his potential and encouraged his mother to enroll him in a drawing class at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The class provided him a unique opportunity to learn about art in a studio setting. The weekly visits to the Museum fueled John’s appreciation for the works of old masters and western art.
After high school he enrolled Pratt Institute, however a burning desire for a deeper understanding of the dynamics and significance of African American artists and their art led John to transferred Fisk University Nashville, TN. Jones states he found Fisk University to be an American treasure. It has a rich history and the university possesses volumes of resources relating to African-American art and culture. At Fisk John came in contact with American arts and culture stalwarts such as Aaron Douglas, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden and David Driscoll. It is during this period that Jones began the visual exploration of southern folk culture particularly African American religion and music.
After college John returned to New York and established a studio in the Tribeca section of lower Manhattan. There he hosted numerous exhibits and public art events. In 1979 John settled on St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands along with his wife, the fiber artist “Yemaya”. John has exhibited at local and national galleries, festivals and museums. . Recent group exhibitions include “ Return to the Mecca II” Howard University Washington D.C.; “Textile Works by Yemaya and Paintings by John Jones” at the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery AL; “the 25th Annual Caribbean Fine Arts Exhibit” Frederiksted USVI; “The Way I See It” Bassin Fine Arts. Christiansted USVI. Recent solo exhibit: “Fire Down There: Uncompromising Expressions of Sounds and Color” at Walsh Metal Works Gallery Christiansted USVI. A teaching artist, John taught advance placement studio art at the St. Croix Educational Complex H.S.