Living Stones by J Jordan Bruns

Posted by Cecilia Leger on 1:04 PM

I am drawn to chaos and mystery.

So when I walked into the studio at the top of the stairs inside Chautauqua Tower at Glen Echo, my heart simply stood still. I have struggled to find the words to complete this entry because I connected with these images in a place of my soul where words dare not go. I feel I’m perpetrating a sort of betrayal by condensing, reducing what I felt so it can fit this page.

Such delicate, precarious balance of stone upon stone and symbiotic alliance of light and shadow. Light does not dispel shadow, it instead lends it purpose and beauty. So I stood in front of this image and the let the waves wash over me: turbulence and rest; unanswered questions and faith; imbalance and adventure; a desire to understand and a beckoning to embrace ambiguity.

I met the artist briefly as I pulled him away from his book with questions about what had been his inspiration; I wish now that I had not made him do that. He did suggest that my friend and I visit another building, which also contained his work. It was there that I read his story written in an article for the Gazette.

After graduation from the Maryland Institute College of Art, J Jordan Bruns sold everything he owned and traveled the United States in an old Subaru, combining his love of illustration and painting as he journeyed. He arrived at the University of Indiana proud of his landscapes and eager to display what he’d created.

His professors called his work hotel art and told him to concentrate on painting or illustration, but not both. Within the first year, he was on probation. Ignored by his peers and his mentors, he put aside the landscapes and began working on abstract pieces that more closely expressed his heart.

During this time, he succumbed to an inexplicable illness: he gained 40 pounds, sometimes couldn’t understand what people were saying to him, and had no answers from his doctors. After a wearing struggle of six years to regain his health, a doctor finally found and removed the tumor that had been plaguing him.

In control of his faculties and body once more, he has spent the last three years working on the exhibit I saw, Living Stones. Bruns believes that there is “a kind of beauty in the destruction and renewal process.”

I agree.

(PS) See all the artist's works by clicking on the image at the top or here.


Thanks for the review! I didn't know I was being writen about till I googled my name to see if my new web site was working. You are a really great writer, I hope you write about me in the future!

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