Artifact: Richard W. James Solo Exhibition – Red Lodge Clay Center

Artifact: Richard W. James Solo ExhibitionOct 01, 2021 - Oct 30, 2021

Curatorial Statement

Exhibition Posted Online: Monday, October 4, 2021 at 10 am MT


Richard W. James’ solo exhibition Artifact will feature his figurative sculptures as well as a series of jars with “traditional” figure studies on the lids. These jars are miniature mausoleums, artifacts of something that was.

Richard W. James is currently an Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Prior to this, he was an Assistant Professor of Sculpture and Ceramics at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, and held long-term artist-in-resident positions at The Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, MT (2017-2019), Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (2016-2017), and Zhenrutang in Jingdezhen, China (summer 2015).  Richard received his BFA from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2001 and his MFA in ceramics from the University of Kansas in 2016, where a portion of his thesis work received the 2016 International Sculpture Center and Sculpture Magazine Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. He was the recipient of the James Renwick Alliance Chrysalis Award (2019) for emerging artist in contemporary craft as well as the Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist Award (2018). He has written multiple articles for Ceramics: Art and Perception, Ceramics: Technical and Ceramics Monthly. His work is featured in numerous private collections, publications, and websites including HI-FRUCTOSE and Glass Tire.  He continues to exhibit regularly across the country, as well as past exhibits in in China and Italy.


I utilize the traditional doll format of ceramic head, hands, and feet with a cloth body to create large-scale sculptures that employ found objects within the narrative. The mending of clothes and the construction of dwellings are two crafts handed down to me through my parents’ and grandparents’ way of life. Growing up in a very poor, rural environment, these crafts were required skills for the survival of my family and are integral to my identity. These hard and soft materials/methods have come to represent the traditionally feminine and masculine facets of my upbringing. The clay in my sculptures (a combination of both) has come to symbolize myself within this trifecta.

 With this exhibition, I wanted to broaden the scope of the world that I populate with my sculptural figures. I entered the ceramic world as a potter and I wanted to bring that foundational aspect of my practice into the larger narrative building of my sculptural work, with the busts and jars attempting to merge the utilitarian and the sculptural.
-Richard W. James