My work is deeply connected to the place in Boyd County, Nebraska, where I have chosen to live. During much of my life I have resided in cities, and I considered myself to be an urban person. Moving to rural northeast Nebraska has challenged me to understand myself and my environment in new ways.
I grew up in a family of artists and have spent most of my adult life in art-related work, including apprenticing with a wood sculptor, studying figurative sculpture with an Egyptian teacher, working as a designer in craft-material companies, and teaching art. I have an MFA in sculpture from Bradley University and have exhibited my sculpture at a number of venues in Illinois and Georgia. After earning a PhD in art education from the University of Minnesota, I taught undergraduates at the U of MN in the General College and the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning. My research focused on teaching and learning artistic creativity.
My current work is informed partly by my family history in Nebraska. My father, Hugh James, was born in 1914 on a homestead in the Nebraska Sandhills, and he grew up in that area. He became an art director in Chicago, where I was born and raised, and we made frequent trips to Nebraska to visit his family. In the late 1950s he purchased property on the Missouri River in Boyd County, Nebraska and built a hunting cabin on it. I came to love this land over my many visits with him as an adult, and I decided that when I retired from teaching, I would start a new life here. Since that time I have been photographing the land, plants, and artifacts around my family’s property and using these photographs to create layered digital compositions that I call photoconstructions.