Creative Quarantine: Photographer Ethan Aaro Jones

Chanhassen | 32"x40" | Archival Pigment Print | © Ethan Aaro Jones, 2019

Photographer Ethan Aaro Jones recently spoke with Esthetic Lens about how he has maintained his photographic practice during the pandemic. He shares insight on how productivity is not the only indication of handling these changing circumstances well.


1. How are you holding up?

I’m well, thanks. I’m lucky to be healthy, safe and employed.


Côte d’Abraham. Québec | 32″x40″ | Archival Pigment Print | © Ethan Aaro Jones, 2019

2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?

I don’t make work in a vacuum, so there will inevitably be some effect from Covid-19 on my work. Since this pandemic is not over, and I still am not sure what the other side will look like, I can’t say how my work will ultimately be affected. Everything has a way of seeping into what I think about or what I do. So, in that sense, the pandemic is already intertwined in my work. I’m just still trying to understand how.


Crown Point | 32″x40″ | Archival Pigment Print | © Ethan Aaro Jones, 2019

Hudson River. New York | 24″x30″ | Archival Pigment Print | © Ethan Aaro Jones, 2017

3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?

I’ve been writing more regularly. It’s been productive and helpful, so I’d like to make an effort to continue writing more often. Usually writing is a way for me to process my thoughts, but as I’ve gone through this year, it has started to creep into my finished work. I recently made a book maquete of my photographs that includes several bits of my writing. It is a relatively new process for me and I’m excited about the possibilities going forward.


Inverted Spring Lake or Mississippi River. Hastings | 40″x50″ | Archival Pigment Print | © Ethan Aaro Jones, 2017

Dayton’s Bluff. Saint Paul | 32″x40″ | Archival Pigment Print | © Ethan Aaro Jones, 2018

4. Of the artists you follow, who is handling this particularly well?

It’s hard for me to state how others are handling the pandemic. I am leery of saying someone is doing well, when they might actually be struggling. I imagine that everyone is trying to balance their concerns for the novel virus with their motivations to make art. These two things seem to initially be at odds, and it is hard to reconcile conflicting feelings for many people. I’m not convinced that outward productivity in the midst of a pandemic is actually proof that a personal situation is being handled well. It feels, more accurately, that we’re all trying to make do with different and changing circumstances.


Lake Superior. Croftville | 40″x50″ | Archival Pigment Print | © Ethan Aaro Jones, 2017

Missouri River. Chamberlain | 40″x50″ | Archival Pigment Print | © Ethan Aaro Jones, 2017

5. Are there any artists, albums, or genres of music you’ve been drawn to during the crisis? If so, why?

I don’t actively listen to music. I’m drawn to quiet. I struggle or feel immense pressure and embarrassment to name any facets of music culture. For me, music is in the background, barely noticeable, occasionally annoying and rarely memorable.


Montmorency Falls. Québec | 32″x40″ | Archival Pigment Print | © Ethan Aaro Jones, 2019

Photo of me by Nora Ronningen

Ethan Aaro Jones (b. 1985, Washington, D.C.) is a photographer and artist currently living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He holds an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago and a BFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Ethan’s work has been exhibited internationally, and he staged his first solo exhibition at the University of Notre Dame in 2014. He received an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board in 2017.


Check out Ethan Aaro Jones’ website.