On his Second Saturday, Richard James will probably make a day out of going through some of the unconventional forms he makes on a semi-regular basis. Double wall pots, making one off clay molds, and how he layers slabs.
Richard W James is a 1st year graduate ceramic student at KU. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Tennessee and studied for a short time at Indiana University before moving to Lawrence as a MFA candidate. He has been working in the field of visual art since 1996 when he began his undergraduate fine arts education at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He was initially a painting student; having spent his youth focused in 2-D discipline, but became enamored with clay immediately upon contact.
In the beginning, his emphasis was on craft, being more interested in what the clay had to say, than what he had to say with the material. His focus has changed considerably over time and recently, he has been using clay to explore questions and issues that lay beyond the materiality and craft of the studio. You can see his work at richardwjames.com
ARTIST STATEMENTMy work uses a visual vocabulary that borrows heavily from the textbook illustrations of my youth. The simplified drawings of molecular physics, explosions, geography and Venn diagrams have all left an indelible footprint on my aesthetic. I use these influences as a jumping off point in the search of some commonality between two areas of study that are of great interest to me. The first is the world of physics. While I have a limited mathematical understanding of such things as quantum theory or the Higgs boson, the philosophical and schematic implications are profound. It seems that we are just now breaking the surface of how interconnected all matter is and how we have continued to be narrow minded about what constitutes reality. This connection between mass, energy, and space has strongly colored how I see the socially interconnected world we live in. In particular, I am interested in the notion of social dynamics between individuals and its effects on the self. The theories of Cognitive Dissonance and Charles H. Cooley’s idea of a mirrored self-awareness, “I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think that you think I am” are played out repeatedly in the 24-hour news/Twitter/Facebook cycle. When our personal narratives don’t align with information from the outside world, we are drawn to explanations that require the path of least resistance to maintain. I feel there is a great overlap between physics and interpersonal spheres. I try to capture some of that energy in the forms that I work with. Seeing bits of social interaction playing out in the same way particles negotiate the forces between themselves is somehow reassuring to me. It is my hope that the work demonstrates both my skepticism of and respect for the patterns inherent in the living world.