By Angela Romeo

The Salton Sea is an area of extremes – extreme beauty and extreme decay.  Salton Sea: An Artistic Discussion, on display at UCR Palm Desert continues the debate. For Kristol Jones growing up below sea level she knows first-hand the power of the Salton Sea.

Kristol, a graduate of the UC- Irvine, is a multi-discipline artist. She lives in Seattle but her roots are in Imperial County. “I dreamed of being a ballerina cowgirl. My parents told me to stand up straight, tummy in, boobs out and any fool can get married but it takes patience to find love. And importantly no one told me that I couldn’t, so I create,” said Kristol. “It is no real surprise growing up below sea level that most of my work involves a representation of water.”

“As a child, we seldom went outside in the summer because even the swimming pool was too hot to swim in. The closest beach had no water at all.  The closest real lake wasn’t safe to go into! But many of us who grew up down wind of the Salton Sea have battled a life-time of lung issues associated with life below sea-level. With the sea shrinking even faster these issues are more acute.  Some lung issues can be contributed to crop dusting, pollens and general dust in the air, but the particulates that are airborne from around the Salton Sea only make matters worse. I remember my parents discussing the shrinking Salton Sea. I remember them explaining why it wasn’t a safe place to ski or swim, just like the rivers and canals all around there.  Living in Seattle, a place with so many ‘safe’ bodies of water, I still find myself hesitating to jump in.”


“The Salton Sea influences and manifests itself in my art. After college, I spent years trying to conform into the mold of a ‘business professional’. In the process, I lost my passion for life.  A tragedy forced me to re-examine my place in the world.  By reinvesting my time into creating, I have found my way back to joy in my daily life.  My work has always been an outlet for investigations of texture and color. My works reflect my love of exploring and generally appreciating the great outdoors.”

“My pieces are personal, but Play Time, which is part of the UCR Show, is more so. This piece came from a place of processing and healing following the death of my older brother Matt.  This resin based collage in a salvaged frame includes remnants of a toy tractor found during a low tide beach combing and other well-loved toys.”

“Our childhood was full of imagination, games and toys.  Like so many adults, Matt forgot how to play as the pressures of being ‘grown-up’ suffocated him. Play Time endeavors to remind one to remember that kid with the big imagination and plans to change the world.  Honor your childhood. With no work/life balance, we find ourselves with only work and no LIFE.”

“The second piece in the show is Make Time. The piece includes metal tags that read ‘Make Time To Play’, ‘Find Balance’, ‘Simplify’ and ’Salvaged.’ These messages are universal and very personal to me.” 

 “I conscientiously look forward. I am intrigued by artifacts I discover during low tide explorations. I do not, however, hold dear many artifacts. I cherish moments.  Many of my collages include leading words or other tokens that reflect the name of the piece. All include rocks, glass, wood and other rusty bits found on explorations and hiking.  I know my policy on encouraging people to touch my art makes art professionals crazy, but I know that the pieces I create beg the viewer to touch them.  It would be cruel of me to not encourage people to touch and explore my pieces. Encouraging people to gently explore my work through touch simply gives them another level on which to connect to it.  #GoOutside”

 Salton Sea: An Artistic Discussion, curated by Terry Hasting runs through December 12.

 For more information on Kristol Jones visit