Richard W. James, Helena, Montana
Few people can pull off the combination of ceramics and mixed media. Often times the additional materials look like an afterthought, and thus there is no true marriage of the two. But Richard W. James begins his sculptures with objects he associates with his youth—quilts and fabrics, instruments and furniture. From this starting point, clay figures are built around the nostalgic objects rather than the inverse, which is most often where other ceramic artists derail when trying to create multimedia works.
His sculptures are intentionally built of specific hard and soft materials, which, to him, represents the masculine and feminine stereotypes of his upbringing. James uses these dressed and adorned characters to express particular cultural beliefs and to convey historical information. From this, he reveals the discrepancies that exist between how we see ourselves and how we would like others to see us.