James Erikson is an artist and librarian from Philadelphia. He makes paintings, prints, artists’ books, drawings, and sculptures. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, at an early age he moved to rural Central Pennsylvania. He has shown his work in galleries in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio. Erikson received his MFA from SUNY Purchase and his MLS from CUNY Queens.
Art creation might be summed up as a process of refining accumulated imagery and experiences to make something new and personal. Over the last ten years I have been looking at the animal imagery from Lascaux and Chauvet-Pont d'Arc caves, ancient monuments from around the world and Celtic monoliths. Beyond the imagery what intrigues me is the scale and surface, what it can tell us about a particular culture and the powerful reference to life and death. In my own art, structure is also important: objects in space, creating movement; a mix of opacity and transparency. I’m interested in the evocation of memory -- memory of time, place, light, color -- and scale that allows you to feel like you’re stepping into the space of the painting.
As a child I spent many days walking in the woods, across fields, and on the railroad tracks in rural Pennsylvania. This led to me, as an artist exploring a connection between light and space and the emotions they evoke. Sometimes the mood and evocations of my work can best be explained through the use of literature. So in making sense of my art a narrative often derives from a particular work of literature. Occasionally I make a connection between what I’m reading and what I’m doing in the studio and this slowly develops into a cohesive body of work.
I struggle with self-doubt all the time in the studio, often questioning the worth of my art. This pushes me to make better work: art that meets high standards. Each painting must stand on its own, be highly crafted, and offer the viewer an experience they can relate to, that stays with them -- something that appreciates with time. I want each work to be an object of beauty to be enjoyed privately, with special personal meaning brought to it by the viewer.