By Glen Mason
Arts & Culture Correspondent
New Journal and Guide
In the Guide, she studied the photojournalism of the ubiquitous Southhall Bass, who documented African-American culture and life for the Guide until his passing. Then Ted and Moneta Williams, award-winning photographers of the Johnson Publishing company, like Bass, recorded the life of the African Diaspora internationally, not just in America.
Their examples inspired Jones-Morant when she first picked up her father George Jones’ Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera in the early 1960s.
Jones-Morant’s photographic art show “From Where I Stand” is on exhibit at the Nelson Gallery in Lexington, VA, and will be on display until August. It was Jones-Morant’s first vernissage as a professional photographer. A vernissage (from the French via Webster’s dictionary) is a preview of an art exhibition, which may be private, before the formal opening.
According to Dorothy Blackwell, one of the Nelson Gallery artists’ co-owners, it was one of the “best attended” openings ever hosted featuring a national artist. Jones-Morant said she is still trying to process it.
“This is amazing,” said an emotional Morant-Jones, taking a break to greet art show patrons. “There is someone here from every chapter of my life. From old Liberty Park friends whom I grew up with, Wyatt Andrews from high school at Norfolk Catholic to family from Harrisburg, PA. It’s going to take me a while to process this.”
The Guide’s photo-journalistic influence is obvious as a veneer in one of Jones-Morant’s photos titled Progress. The contrasting imagery in Progress with a two-story building or, to former residents, apartments being demolished resonates with urban renewal in Norfolk’s St. Paul quadrant. Ironically, it was opposite the beautiful, multi-colored, tiered sunset she captured reflected on the mirrored glass on the skyscrapers in Midtown Reflections of Midtown Manhattan.
Other photographs reflect years of travel in a very diverse career that Jones-Morant began as a Spanish teacher over 30 years ago after graduating from the University of Virginia. She spent ten years at the Rockbridge County High School and was active in alum relations for Wake Forest University and George Washington University law schools.
Jones-Morant’s suite of photographs circles the globe from McLaren Vale, South Australia, to the port city of Norfolk, Va. Spiral Etude in D was reviewed in the Guide when she was selected to exhibit in Virginia Beach a year ago and was marked sold almost immediately.
Morant has been a highly regarded fine arts photographer for some years, going back to her student days at the University of Virginia and Ohio State. However, she seldom showed her work publicly.
The Nelson Gallery is displaying the photography of Paulette Jones Morant until August. The opening reception was held last Friday.
Her work has won many awards; last year, a suite of her photos was published in the “Best Shots” features of The Malibu Times in Malibu, CA.