James McPherson- BFA AIR- 2014-2015
James McPherson’s works are short stories, which serve to illustrate or reveal specific moments in life. James frames these moments with humorous situations that are awkward and taste of failure. The narrative image/ text combinations of alternative comics from the 1970s influence his work. Each piece creates a mood that is universal and serves to bring the viewer back to that moment every time they are viewed.
The situations James create are steeped in dry humor and serve to poke fun at contemporary life. A smirk or a choked back chortle is the first reaction that his work elicits. However, James builds upon this initial reaction and use this “foot in the door” mentality to get the viewer to question why a laugh was the first reaction. To laugh at an awkward or tragic moment can create a glaring question in the viewer’s mind that is further complicated by rough almost pathetic illustrations.
As James has become more experienced in the self publishing world he is more concerned with the way print based methods of distribution and creation can come into conflict with the now ubiquitous digital aspects of displaying and consuming work. HIs self published zines, comics, prints, and artist books employ the use of a risograph printer. James has found that this printer can create a specific kind of feel and look while also being incredibly versatile and efficient in its method of production. James is interested in the ways self publishing printed matter and distribution can compete with other forms of self made content that can be distributed easily through the web or digital means.
James McPherson worked on a myriad of projects during his stay VCUQ. From paintings and screen prints to sculptural elements made out of vinyl sheets. However, James found VCUQ’s risograph printer located in the Painting and Printmaking Department’s digital print lab to be the tool used most for projects. The risograph printer led to a series of zines and artist book’s that became the one of the focal points of the show at the end of the residency. James was also able to attend a risograph based conference in the Netherlands at the Jan Van Eyck Academie. Building on this, the little printer was the basis of a grant he wrote to produce a print exchange with the hem campus in Richmond,VA.
Since completing his residency James McPherson has started a risograph based press in the heart of the Museum District in Richmond,VA. The press is named Clown Kisses Press and in conjunction with two collaborators James offers printing services to artists in the area. Also Clown Kisses Press publishes their very own works and travels the East Coast to different small press events multiple times a year. In 2016 Clown Kisses Press had their first show at Endeavor Gallery in Richmond,VA and will be part of more to come this year.