James Simon is an International
Artist who was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is
a professionally-trained lutier and restorationist turned sculptor
whose work has been interpreted as a fusion of High Renaissance
technology, contemporary art, and primitive form. His extensive
travels and rich experiences with other cultures and peoples give
his work a unique, original, multicultural perspective.
James has always encouraged his studio and home to be a cultural
meeting ground, and over the years has hosted a variety of music
and other cultural events,including 10 years of the nationally
Street Reading Series. -In collaboration with the directors Sherrie
Flick, and Nancy Krygosky.
What grounds my work is the belief that art is a celebratory
experience that can create joy despite adverse conditions of social
injustice, poverty, war.I came from a family that pulsed with music
and dance (my father was a violinist, my mother a tap dancer).
When I graduated high school, I began extensively traveling
the world. I spent many years living in Brazil, Mexico,
Australia and England. The distinct, diverse experiences I
had living and creating art in these cultures has shaped my
approach to art thematically, stylistically, and in my choice of
materials. But what each of these cultures shared, and what
is reflected in my sculptures, is the primal impulse towards
creative expression that is situated in daily life and can serve to
uplift the human spirit.
In England I trained as a violinmaker, a renaissance
art that demands a high level of knowledge, precision and
discipline. The beauty of the violin must be expressed within
a strict architectural and acoustic formula. My sculptures utilize
the discipline of this classical training (in process and in the
integrity of the materials I use) while incorporating a kind of
"street freedom" that allows me to depict history and contemporary
life in a fluid, poetic, transcendent style strongly influenced by
my international as well as local life experiences.
Living in these places, especially among indigenous cultures, I
experienced a unique relationship between humans and nature--I
watched cows and burrows munching on my front lawn in the late
night moonlight, woke up most nights in my pueblo to the sounds of
an endless orchestra of dogs and roosters in the distance. I
also experienced a unique relationship between the people and art.
Artistic expression in these cultures is an integral part of
daily life; it is colorful, full of music, humor, and connected to
antiquity. These experiences profoundly influence the themes,
composition and emotion of my art. The figures I sculpt have
their beginnings in the quotidian: a Mexican kid leaning
against a building upside down reading a comic book, a street
musician searching for the right chords to express an emotion.
My "Uptown Rhythm" relief sculpture depicts the activity of a
vibrant community on a typical day. Though it alludes to the
history of a Pittsburgh neighborhood, it examines the magic and
beauty of the idea of community, an important theme in my work.
Sculpting in clay allows me to go beyond realism to capture the
fluidity of human form and the details of human expression in a way
that amplifies the emotion of a piece. This figurative style
gives my sculptures a universality and timelessness that make them
relevant and relatable to viewers, qualities I value in art.