Eurhi Jones wanted to be an artist ever since she was a little girl. Her passion for painting shows through in the larger-than-life murals she’s been creating around Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs since 1999. In these pictures, she paints vivid images of nature scenes. Her brightly-colored animals adorn many public spaces around the City of Brotherly Love, including the Philadelphia Zoo.
An Artist from the Start
Jones tells Parentology her passion for art started at a young age, leading her to convince her parents to sign her up for supplemental art programs that went beyond her school’s regular curriculum.
Although she always knew she loved painting and art, the Swarthmore, Pennsylvania native didn’t discover her love for murals until she met her husband, David McShane, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It was there that his interest became her interest and she started creating large scale projects.
Becoming a Professional Artist
Although Jones has always known she wanted to be an artist, her path hasn’t been an easy one. “I do community-based artwork, not big commercial projects,” she explains. “So I don’t make a lot of money.”
All of her projects are commissioned as freelance work, something she says she wouldn’t be able to do if her husband didn’t have a full-time staff job. McShane, who’s been a mural artist for more than 20 years, works on staff at Mural Arts Philadelphia and has created well-known works including those depicting Jackie Robinson, the Phillies and Spike’s Trophies.
“If I was a single mom, I couldn’t pull this off,” Jones says of her own projects. However, she says, the trade-off between job stability and freelance work is worth it, since this lifestyle allows her to be home with her children.
A Favorite Project
A project that holds a special place in Jones’s heart is the large-scale mural she created for the Philadelphia Zoo in 2013. The project, which required her to create a “paint by number” outline of endangered animals on the exterior of the zoo’s parking garage, was part of a community outreach program.
Former inmates joined in on the mural process in conjunction with Philadelphia’s Restorative Justice Program. The job readiness training program from Mural Arts paired inmates with Jones. She recalls meeting a lot of great people, and even a few good artists, as part of the project.
What She Hopes Viewers See in Her Art
Jones explains how she always tries to include messages about the climate crisis, nature, sustainability and environmental justice in her work. “[Those] focuses have become sharper in the past five years,” she says. All it takes is one look at her Instagram page to get a feeling for her passion behind those topics.
“I like to bring nature into the city through images,” she says, adding that she hopes her art gives heightened visibility and raises awareness about environmental concerns facing our planet today, without focusing too much on the sadness that comes with the ravages of climate change.
What Her Kids Think
Jones and her husband have two daughters, ages 14 and 16. Both girls seem to be following in their parents’ footsteps.
“Ever since they could hold a paintbrush they’ve taken part in our projects,” she says. “They both identify as artists.”
Jones suspects that they could have been influenced by the fact that she tries to get involved in large-scale art projects at every school the two of them have attended. “It’s nice to weave my work into my kids’ lives,” she says of being able to paint murals on the walls that her daughters pass by every day.
About Redefining Rosie
This profile on Philadelphia-based muralist Eurhi Jones is a part of our Redefining Rosie: Cool Women, Uncommon Jobs.
Parentology created this series to celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. It features articles highlighting remarkable women in the workforce around the world — and in outer space! Check out our other profiles in the Redefining Rosie hub.