Jonas Perkins Biography

"Artists are the antennae of civilization." - Jonas Perkins



Art Institute of Chicago - emphasis on metal sculpture
Institute Allende Art Academy of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


Jonas Perkins grew up in Phoenix, Illinois (a southern suburb of Chicago). His father worked on the railroad lines as a Pullman porter. His mother worked as a housekeeper in a mental institution, in order to have enough money to send Jonas and his sister to private, parochial schools.

Jonas says of those days, "the school was great because they encouraged creativity, and I enjoyed learning. But I was one of only a few Black kids, and I wasn't Catholic or rich, so it was hard to make friends. And after school, I would have to run from the Black kids - gangs in my own neighborhood - who wanted to beat me up because I wore a suit and tie to school."

But Jonas' mother encouraged him to "become a great leader for our people and to do something amazing." She also introduced him to art by working with ceramics and giving him clay to experiment with.

After high school, Jonas - accepted into the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago - studied metal sculpture. But, he says, "everyone was into abstracts, and that wasn't my only thing." So, he decided to go south, and studied in Mexico at the Institute Allende Art Academy of San Miguel de Allende.

Loving the South, he ended up in Fredericksburg, Texas, set up a tent, and began creating his portrait art. Later, he built a house and still lives and works on his beautiful Hill Country property.

Jonas, an early conservationist, incorporates a "Green" concept in his home, which he designed and continues to build and renovate. He uses only recycled materials, and has domed ceilings made from 12 foot satellite dishes, with wall and ceiling insulation of discarded styrofoam. His floors are mosaics, comprised of scraps from his finished projects.
"We artists serve as ambassadors to every nation and every land." - Jonas Perkins

Jonas Perkins Sculptor
2010, Jonas at his studio

Jonas Perkins Sculptor
1990, Jonas sculpting Harold Washington

Jonas Perkins Sculptor
1976, Castle diorama
Jonas Perkins Sculptor
1994, Jonas, 2nd from left, standing.
On set of TV Miniseries "Heaven and Hell"
Jonas Perkins Sculptor
1970, First studio: Harvey, IL


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