A Celebration of Queer Expression
James received his BFA in Visual Arts with a concentration in Painting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2011. His minor was Art History. He has exhibited his drawings and paintings in various venues throughout New York City, as well as exhibiting internationally for the first time in 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. The Huffington Post profiled James last year about his recent series of Queer illustrations. His work may be found in a variety of private and public collections, including a branch of the New York Public Library located in the West Village. Currently James’ work is centered on exploring and celebrating Queer activism, identity, expression, fashion and romance. It has been extremely important for him to create work that celebrates his community and speaks to who he is as a person and an artist. In addition to his own personal works, he has worked on commissioned portraits, promotional posters for nightlife entertainers, album covers and ad campaigns.
Here’s James speaking truth to power about the magic and diversity in gay culture that informs his art. As he sees it, LGBTQ culture is a big, bright and beautiful garden — and he wants to celebrate all of it.
Description of Artwork
My work aims to celebrate Queer activism, expression, fashion, sexuality and romance, with a particular emphasis on Queer masculinity and deconstructing stifling ideals of the gender binary. The subjects I choose to draw have a common denominator of exhibiting a calm, confident, Queer sensuality and freedom of personal style expression that challenges traditional imagery of men and masculinity. I think visibility is more important than ever in this particular political climate we are currently in, and I hope to use my artistic platform to continue to aid in the fight for a wider Queer visibility and acceptance. In this vein, I also make it a point to include and celebrate gender non conforming and trans individuals in my work. Inevitably there is also a sense of exploring my own Queer identity through my subjects. I choose individuals who are fearless and confident in their expression, as I ultimately aim to be in my own right. By exploring their identities it is aiding me to come into my own. Incorporating flowers for me is a play on the duality of masculine and feminine energies found within myself, and in all men (though unfortunately many are unaware of this, or seek to suppress any feminine expression within themselves as a result of our culture imbued with toxic masculinity). I strongly believe that a “real man” is in touch with the full scope of his persona, especially his more passionate sensibilities. And lastly, including floral elements in the work is a small way to pay honor to a myself as a child. Flowers were my first passion in this life, until it was beaten out of me by society at large as this was seen as an unacceptable expression for little boys. Incorporating florals into my work is my way of reclaiming and celebrating this initial, purest form of self expression that I feel was taken from me.
Check out the artist’s answer to the question“What Does Pride Mean to You?”
Last modified: September 13, 2018