Park of Dreams: On Jon Key

Park of Dreams: On Jon Key

ART FOR CHANGE and Prospect Park Alliance present Park of Dreams, a public art exhibition featuring larger-than-life work by leading New York-based contemporary artists, on view now through Spring 2024. Included in this exhibition is Brooklyn-based artist Jon Key

Jon Key is a multidisciplinary artist working at the intersection of design, painting and writing. Born in Seale, Alabama, the artist excavates the lineage and history of his identity through four themes: Southern-ness, Blackness, queerness and family. Within his work, the colors green, black, violet and red stand in as foundational pillars for portrayals drawn from both graphic design and personal memory. 

Jon Key’s Man in the Violet Dreamscape No. 5 is available for purchase at, with 5% of the purchase price, up to $15,000, of each limited edition print sold being donated to the Prospect Park Alliance. In keeping with all ART FOR CHANGE releases, artists will receive 50% of the net proceeds from each print sale.


Drawing from an early series of work on paper, Man in the Violet Dreamscape No. 5 depicts a figure seated in a verdant outdoor setting. Key imagined his subject venturing out into an environment intended for rest, relaxation and enjoyment—a safe space filled with flora tied to the Alabama landscape. Recalling the artist’s notion of home, the image is defined by visually arresting elements that transform the scene with a dynamic play of shapes and patterns. Rather than using traditional contours and shadows, Key opts to distinguish his subject’s limbs and surrounding environment from one another by filling in each with a graphic element of its own. For this edition, the artist will make each print unique by adding hand embellishments  including various polka dots, flowers, leaves and patterns over the surface of the image.

Jon Key's recent Google Doodle depicting James Baldwin. Image courtesy of Google. 

To commemorate the start of Black History Month and the 26th anniversary of the publication of James Baldwin: Collected Essays, ART FOR CHANGE artist Jon Key was selected as a guest artist to create a Google Doodle of civil rights activist and writer James Baldwin. In his interview, Key explores Baldwin’s impact on his own artistic career: “Baldwin was not afraid to speak his mind and advocate for marginalized voices. With the work I create, I am trying to manifest environments and community structures imbued with truth, pride and love – tenets that I think are exemplified by Baldwin’s texts and life.” 

Earlier this year, Key sat down with journalists Evan Pricco and Doug Gillen for an interview featured in Juxtapoz. The artist described the symbolism within his work: “My work focuses on the various intersections of my identity while using a limited color palette, using motifs and things from my own personal memories, and that creates my work. So for example, I paint with the color red, which for me means family, bloodline, ancestry and legacy. I paint with the color green because I grew up on a bucolic farm in Alabama. I used the color black for blackness, my community, my race, my people. And then queerness is violet.”