James was born in Wyoming and grew up in South Dakota. He graduated from Black Hills State University in 2010 where he studied Visual Arts and Sociology. Currently, he is pursuing an MFA from The University of Montana.
My work attempts to re-contextualize the myths and misconceptions associated with life in the American West. The figures, symbols, and the land itself are perhaps the most iconic elements within American culture, so iconic in fact that they have ventured into the realm of cliché. The virtues and sensibilities that our country holds in the highest regard are essentially plots and character traits of the Western genre of film and literature. I play off of these clichés and historical inaccuracies in my work, demystifying the valiant conceptions of the American West and ultimately American culture, reconstructing the myth as a violent, degenerate and bleak narrative built not on heroism and possibility but on guilt and isolation.
The decision to use a limited palette and little visual information on my surfaces allows the work to hang in balance between the verbal and the visual, letting the narrative occupy the vastness of the abstracted landscapes and scenes I am creating. The work can be read as a representation of the void that is the historical and contemporary American West, both in landscape and culture, and the terror that this intense isolation can bring about.