James B. Craig, is a retired Associate Professor of Art at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington. He holds a M.F.A. degree from the University of Montana and a B.F.A. degree from Florida Atlantic University.
Craig is a regional artist whose work has become part of the permanent collections of North Dakota Museum of Art, University of Montana Gallery of the Visual Arts, Florida Atlantic University, and Columbia Basin College. His work has been also acquired by corporations, governmental agencies, and numerous private collections of south Florida, California, Canada, Washington, Montana, and North Dakota.
The artist has participated in recent group exhibitions and solo exhibitions at Tacoma Art Museum’s 2005 Biennial, Yellowstone Art Museum, Yakima’s Larson Gallery, Allied Arts in Richland, Washington, Gallery One in Ellensburg, Washington, and North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
As an artist, I have been working with recycled paper fiber as a sculptural medium for close to two decades, from constructing structures in high relief, to work where I draw into the wet paper fiber to form bas-relief surfaces. The process begins with a plywood platform followed by the layering of paper fiber reinforced with resin to build up relief surfaces of various depths. The hardened fiber material is conducive to altering the surface with the use of tools (gouges, rasps, and abrasive papers). I also have the option to add fiber material to build-up higher relief form on the surface. The final process is the addition of color to the surface. The painted wall constructions are developed from observation and inspiration derived from the rural environment of the west and other regions of North America. Living in the prairie land of Saskatchewan, Canada, and northeast Montana, which included living on an isolated Indian reservation for eighteen years, shaped my perspectives on rural existence. I grew to appreciate the traditions and mores of the communities where I lived. These experiences deeply influenced my choice of subject matter, themes and ideas in making art. The repetitive patterns of the agricultural land, people doing the hard labor, and the traditional motifs and color orchestrations of traditional quilt design find their way into the work.
The free-standing work, and wall structures created with wood and found objects express my interest in the cultural, political, and social dynamics of this country based on observation and the news media. The vehicle for expression is the carved form, and the use of “found” objects (cultural artifacts and natural objects assembled together). Found objects, in combination with the carved wood medium, play an important role in triggering ideas, and are presented as symbols to mirror memories, attitudes and perspectives – my narrative on existence.