I have always been drawn to narrative and even at its most abstract my work suggests a plot. I have found that referencing a story is an effective way to explore my own particular conceptual ideas, and a compelling way to engage an audience. Painting one image often does not fully express the ideas I am exploring but painting several images and thoughtfully juxtaposing them next each other they begin to create their own visual language. My approach to creating work has begun to resemble writing, I rigorously edit. As I pin paintings to the wall, I layer, remove, reconfigure and repaint until a compelling narrative begins to form. I frequently refer to my library of old books and magazines searching for relevant texts which I transcribe into the painted works. As I paint the work expands and shrinks finding unexpected directions, sometimes growing until it fills entire walls. This process can be very labor intensive and it can take time to complete a work, in some cases years, but as I continue to pursue this approach I am finding it a very surprising and rewarding experience.
As the narrative develops I frequently am drawn to issues concerning rural culture, such as our relationship to the landscape and guns. Like literature, characters and locations begin to emerge and as I work I am not always certain how the story will resolve itself, which if often true of the writing process. I utilize images found in my library and as I paint them and juxtapose them they begin to examine the darker elements below the nostalgic veneer of their original intention.
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From a very early age James loved to draw stories. One of his earliest influences was Godzilla which led to his first unpublished novel at the age of six, the highly illustrated Godzilla vs the World. He works with paint, sculpture, video, photography and performance.
He received his BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and his MFA from Mills College. His paintings and installations have been shown nationally and extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area including Southern Exposure, San Francisco Arts commission and the Contemporary Jewish Art Museum. In 2005 he was an artist in residency at Recology also known as the San Francisco Dump. In 2013 he was chosen as a Lucas Fellow at the Villa Montalvo artist residency and received a The Center for Cultural Innovation, Investing in Artist Grant to research and produce work that explores the juncture between literature and visual art.