Artist Statement

My work explores the discrepancy between how we, as humans, see ourselves and how we would like others to see us. I am curious about how the aggregate nature of personality and memory construction affects the sense of self, and by extension, our interaction with the world around us.   Because “an unexamined life is not worth living,” I feel the need to question the basic detritus that has coalesced into what I refer to as “myself.” I do that in my studio practice by incorporating materials and processes that I associate with the informative years of my youth, growing up within a poor, rural upbringing.

The mending of clothes and the construction of dwellings are two crafts handed down to me through my parents and grandparents’ way of life. I have chosen to integrate these hard and soft materials and construction methods into my ceramic sculptures. They have come to represent the feminine and masculine facets of my upbringing. The clay (a combination of both) has come to symbolize myself within this trifecta. In addition, I use found objects that I associate with my rural culture to represent the various bits of influence and information that have shaped my outlook. The characters in my work often fail to understand the intended purpose of the objects with which they interact. I find this misuse analogous to how past information can be misinterpreted based on present need, a type of cognitive dissonance from which we all suffer.

The goals of my studio practice are an extension of my personal goals. I believe that using these components and methods are the most effective way for me to self-analyze both how and why I think and act the way I do. These works that come from the studio are simply a crystalized attempt toward that end.  




  • 2017-19 Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana

  • 2016 Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

  • 2015 Zhenrutang A.I.R., Jingdezhen, China


  • 2013-2016 M.F.A. Ceramics Candidate University of Kansas Lawrence, Kansas

  • 2010-2012 Post-Baccalaureate in Ceramics Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana

  • 1996-2001 Bachelor of Fine Arts University of Tennessee, Martin Martin, Tennessee

Selected Group and Solo Exhibitions                                                                       

  • 2019 Animals Among Us, Red Lodge Gallery, Red Lodge, MT

  • 2018 Current Profile, Craft Alliance Center for Art and Design, St. Louis, MO

  • 2018 Jingdezhen International Ceramic Fair, Jingdezhen International Ceramic Institution, Jingdezhen, China

  • 2018 Figurative Association: The Human Form Symposium, Sandra J. Blain Gallery, Arrowmont, Gatlinburg, TN

  • 2018 Raise a Glass - A Contemporary Response to Animal-Shaped Vessels of the Ancient World, Gallery 224, Harvard Office for the Arts, Allston, MA

  • 2018 Archie Bray First Year Fellowship Artist Exhibition, Bray Warehouse Gallery, Helena, MT

  • 2018 Archie Bray Resident Artist Exhibition, Bray Warehouse Gallery, Helena, MT

  • 2018 Permeant Residency, Cohen Gallery, Goggleworks Center for the Arts, Reading, PA

  • 2018 Found Again, Manchester Craftsman’s Guild, Pittsburg, PA

  • 2018 Ceramic Sculpture Culture: Unifying the Narrative Figure, David L. Lawrence, Pittsburgh, PA

  • 2018 Tall Tales, College of Southern Maryland - Tony Hungerford Memorial Gallery, La Plata, MD

  • 2018 The Persistence of the Residuum, Eutectic Gallery, Portland, OR

  • 2017 Archie Bray Resident Show, Kolva-Sullivan Gallery, Spokane, WA

  • 2017 Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics, Zanesville, OH

  • 2017 Ceramic Sculpture Culture, James May Gallery, Algoma, WI

  • 2017 Habitual, Roswell Clay, Atlanta, GA

  • 2017 Un//known, Sandra J. Blain Gallery, Arrowmont, Gatlinburg, TN

  • 2016 Ceramic Sculpture Culture, Baltimore Clayworks, Baltimore, MD

  • 2016 okay., Wolpert Gallery, Arrowmont, Gatlinburg, TN

  • 2016 International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement Awards In Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition, Grounds for Sculpture Museum, Hamilton, NJ

  • 2016 The Arrowmont Experience, The Emporium, Knoxville, TN

  • 2016 Richard W. James Thesis Exhibition, KU Art and Design Gallery, Lawrence, KS

  • 2016 Generations, Filipino Cultural Center, Overland Park, KS

  • 2015 Intimate Object XI, Charlie Cummings Gallery, St. Petersburg, FL

  • 2015 2015 M.F.A. National Exhibition, First Street Gallery, New York, NY

  • 2015 The Seven Colors, Other Gallery, Jingdezhen, China

  • 2015 New China From China, Milano Art EXPO, Italy

  • 2014 Concordia Continental Ceramics Competition 5, Concordia Gallery, St. Paul, MN

  • 2014 2014 World Cup Tournament, Hyart Gallery, Madison, WI

  • 2014 Way of the Tea Bowl, Plenum Space Gallery, Kansas City, MO

  • 2013 Lets Talk About Love Baby, Sculpture X, Columbus, OH

  • 2013 Singularities, West Street Art Gallery (2-person, lecture), Madison, IN

  • 2013 Lets Talk About Love Baby, Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis, IN

  • 2012 Flash Point, Plinth Gallery, Denver, CO

  • 2011 In Lieu, Hanover College Greiner Art Gallery (2-person, lecture), Hanover, IN

  • 2011 Detritus, West Street Art Gallery (solo), Madison, IN

  • 2010 Our Own Backyard, Grenier Art Gallery, Hanover, IN

  • 2008 Untitled, Studio 310 (solo), Madison, IN


2018 Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist Award

2017 Zanesville Prize For Contemporary Ceramics Finalist 

2017 Speyer Fellowship Award, The Archie Bray Foundation

2016  Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award,  Sculpture Magazine.                                                          

2015  Recipient, Travel Award, The University of Kansas SOTA Travel Research Grant                  

2015  Finalist, 2015 National MFA Competition                                                        

2014  Recipient, Travel Award, The University of Kansas Ceramic Association                           

2014  Best in Show, Concordia Continental Ceramics Competition 5, St. Paul, MN                        

2013  Clyde Bonebrake and Ward Lockwood Art Scholarship, The University of Kansas                     

2012  Honorable Mention, Flash Point International Wood Fire                                          

2006  Asheville Area Arts Council “Emerging Artist” Grant Recipient        

Publications as author

(upcoming) James, R.W. (2019) Crating Large Sculptures, Ceramics Monthly

James, R.W. (2017) The Work of Russell Wrankle, Ceramics: Art and Perception. #105, pp. 4-9.

James, R.W. (2017).  The Unifying Language of Clay in a Complicated World, Ceramics: Technical, #105, pp. 58-61

James, R.W. (2015).  He Said, She Said. Ceramics: Art and Perception, June.   

James, R.W. (2013).  Low firing with wood. Ceramics Monthly. June/July/August, pp. 58–62.

Publications as feature

(upcoming) Arbogast, E. (2019). Exposure, Ceramics Monthly. February.

Arbogast, E. (2018). Emerging Artist, Ceramics Monthly. May, pp. 39.

Arbogast, E. (2018). Exposure, Ceramics Monthly. January, pp. 18.

Smith, A. (2017) The Unsettling Ceramic Sculptures of Richard W. James. Hi-Fructose Art Magazine, (

Ramos, O. (2017). Conversation with Richard W. James, Work Untitled. 2017 Q3.

Knapp, J. (2017). Exposure, Ceramics Monthly. March, pp. 20.

Hutchison, J. (2016). The International Sculpture Center 2016 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards, Sculpture. October, pp. 52.

Salamoni, A. (2014).  Wood-fired Ceramics: 100 Contemporary Artists, Schiffer Publishing:  Atglen, Pennsylvania.

Melnick, D. (2013). Pots and Protons: Richard James Ceramics, The Ryder Arts Magazine. May, pp. 22-24.