The Unsettling Ceramic Sculptures of Richard W. James

by Andy SmithPosted on

Tennessee native Richard W. James uses ceramics and found objects to create surreal figures and scenes. Using earthenware, fabrics, and underglaze, he forges these characters from materials he associated with his youth. The artist says that in doing this, he “explores the discrepancy between how we, as humans, see ourselves and how we would like others to see us.”

“The mending of clothes and the construction of dwellings are two crafts handed down to me through my parents and grandparents’ way of life,” he says, in a statement. “I have chosen to integrate these hard and soft materials and construction methods into my ceramic sculptures. They have come to represent the feminine and masculine facets of my upbringing. The clay (a combination of both) has come to symbolize myself within this trifecta. In addition, I use found objects that I associate with my rural culture to represent the various bits of influence and information that have shaped my outlook.”

The artist graduated with his BFA at University of Tennessee before moving onto studies at Indiana University and the University of Kansas, where he acquired his M.F.A. in ceramics. Since, he’s had residencies and shown work across the world.

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