Co-Artistic Director of Cultural Odyssey
Founder & Director of the Medea Project
Performer, teacher, director RHODESSA JONES is Co-Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed, performance company Cultural Odyssey. Jones founded and directs The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, an award-winning performance workshop committed to to the personal and social transformation of women, now in it’s 23rd year.
As recipient of US Artist Fellowship, Jones expanded her work in corrections and for educational institutions internationally. She conducted the Medea Project in South African prisons, working with incarcerated women and trained correctional personnel and local artists. In 2012, the U.S. Department of State, Educational and
Cultural Affairs Bureau named her as Arts Envoy for the U.S. Embassy.
Jones is Pew Fellow of the week and has received many honors. She was named Frank H.T. Rhodes Chair at Cornell University (2018-2021). She was appointed as a Rhodes Professor, "To strengthen the undergraduate experience by bringing individuals from every walk of life who represent excellence of achievement to the university." As a Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College, Jones was invited to join August Wilson, Cornel West, Yo-Yo Ma, and Anna Deavere Smith as a “Montgomery Fellow”, fostering “the advancement of the academic realm of the College in ways that will significantly add to the quality and character of the institution.”
Thanks to Rhodessa Jones, art students from all cultures can flock to universities and learn non-European methods to develop their authentic voices, to give voice to the voiceless, and transform society in the process. Jones always challenged her students to think critically about the vital role of the arts and humanities in community action.
Other residencies in the USA include Brown University and Scripps College Humanities Institute. Jones is a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from California College of the Arts, SF Bay Guardian’s Lifetime Achievement Award, SF Foundation Community Leadership Award, Non-Profit Arts Excellence Award by the SF Business Arts Council, and an Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theater.
Most recently, Jones was an Actress/Voice Talent for the character “Lulu”, in Disney's (Pixar) SOUL. It is a feature length animated film that won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score. Directed by Academy Award winner Pete Docter, produced by Academy Award nominee Dana Murray (Pixar “Lou”), and starring Jamie Foxx, SOUL is nominated for three Oscars. Other cast members include Angela Bassett and Phylicia Rashad. It features original jazz music by the two Oscar winners, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and the globally renowned Jon Batiste.
PIXAR/ DISNEY'S SOUL
Jones is the Actress/Voice Talent for the character “Lulu” in SOUL, a feature length animated film. SOUL won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score. Directed by Academy Award winner Pete Docter, produced by Academy Award nominee Dana Murray (Pixar “Lou”), and starring Jamie Foxx, SOUL is nominated for three Oscars. Other cast members include Angela Bassett and Phylicia Rashad. It features original jazz music by the two Oscar winners, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and the globally renowned Jon Batiste.
Hosted by Michael Krasny on Feb 3 at 9:40 AM
Rhodessa Jones on Decades of Art and Activism [AUDIO]
Performer and teacher Rhodessa Jones has said that she’s not interested in art for art’s sake. “It has to be about social change,” she said, “It has to be able to save lives.” Now in her 70’s Jones has been bringing a passion for social justice to her work for decades. She created the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women more than 30 years ago and has continued to work in prisons and on reentry projects and, recently, she performed in a play that took on climate change. We talk to Jones about her ever evolving artistic career and activism.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR HELLENIC STUDIES
Visiting Artist Presentation: Rhodessa Jones
On Friday, January 15, 2021, Rhodessa Jones gave a presentation on "Medea in Lockdown" to the CHS research community. The event was recorded live via Zoom. Please note that the presentation includes adult language and mature themes. In "Medea in Lockdown," Rhodessa Jones focuses on the work of the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women/HIV Circle and its engagement with ancient myth, which is at the heart of the group’s artistic process. The Medea Project came into being in 1989; it takes its name from Jones’ work with women incarcerated in the San Francisco County Jail, including one who had killed her own child out of desperation and anger at her baby’s father. Since then, Jones has worked with women in jails and prisons around the world, as well as women with HIV and AIDS diagnoses, to develop and perform their personal stories of trauma, addiction, and disease as a mode of healing.
The Medea Project’s form of "Art as Social Activism" has been consistently informed by classical myths that frame and ground the women’s own experiences. In this seminar Jones will present the transformational writing of incarcerated women that has developed from their encounters with mythic figures such as Medea, Demeter and Persephone, Inanna, Pandora, Sisyphus, Daphne
CENTER THEATRE GROUP DIGITAL STAGE
Not A Moment, But a Movement
Presented in conjunction with Watts Village Theater Company and The Fire This Time Festival, this series of play readings with visual artists and musicians creates an interdisciplinary collaboration that celebrates Black voices. The first episode is introduced by Vanessa Williams, hosted by Bruce A. Lemon Jr.. Each event is paired with a panel discussion to create a uniquely comprehensive cultural experience.
"The Forum: Amplifying the Roots of the Movement" is moderated by SoulCenter founder Erin Michelle Washington and featuring three influential Black theatre practitioners Woodie King Jr., Rhodessa Jones and Nancy Cheryll Davis-Bellamy. The discussion is free to the public and available on demand at www.CTGLA.org/NotAMoment. Founded in 1967, Center Theatre Group (CTG), one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading not-for-profit theatre company
THE D.I.R.T. FESTIVAL DANCE MISSION
Mistress of Ceremonies, Rhodessa Jones
Harriet’s Gun features a spectrum of world class Black artists from around the country and Rhodessa Jones will be spinning the web for the evening as the Mistress of Ceremonies and homegrown San Francisco storyteller. A panel with the artists follows the performance.
Rhodessa Jones & The Medea Project
A CULTURAL ODYSSEY PROGRAM
Post Office Box 156620
S.F., CA 94115