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Artist James Charles Morris uses his work to engage in various social conversations

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Posted at 4:45 AM, Apr 01, 2023

DETROIT, MICH (WXYZ) — James Charles Morris is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist, who has engaged in the creative visual media practices of photography, collage, painting, and printmaking for 20 years.

Morris has used his work to engage in various social conversations addressing themes of race, spirituality, history, mental wellness and community. As a native Detroiter, Morris has always had a fondness for his hometown, which is evident in his work. His artistic influence began to manifest at a very early age, as he took found objects from around his home and created new works. However, his familial connections also informed his development. Grandmother, Dell Pryor, a gallerist in the city of Detroit across four decades, exposed James to many emerging and master artists. Some of those names that ultimately influenced and inspired Morris include Adger Cowans, Hugh Grannum, Lester Sloan, Al Loving, Gilda Snowden, Shirley Woodson, Anthony Barboza, and Eric Pryor among others.

In 2008, Morris founded Definitive Style Exclusive (DSE Detroit), a brand that uses an array of visual statements and designs created with a simple yet blunt approach to touch on difficult and controversial topics within our society.

In 2019, Morris began developing an artistic style that combines collage, photo montage, and abstract expressionism. This collage-montage style has led Morris to create a series of figurative works, that have engaged many within the artistic community.

Artist’s Statement

Curiosity is the driving force of my artistic journey. It has allowed me to explore, view, and absorb the world in a way that creates a sense of wonder towards my work. My artistic practice is a style that combines collage, original photography, and abstract expressionism. Using this method, I create figurative art that portrays moments of personal introspection, using themes that center around reinvention, self-confidence, pride, purpose, love, inspiration, mental
wellness, and spirituality.

My intention is to create a visual narrative of personal appreciation through the emotions the figure displays, while surrounding them with a vivid world, complementary to their spirit. In creating my work, I never hesitate to “start, by not starting”. What this means is, I don’t force a creative vision to
appear, but to let it be revealed through time, and to become immersed in the emotion of that moment.

Observation plays a pivotal role in the process, it’s also through this that I developed a bond with photography, which is the essence of my work. I look to photograph what I see as the necessary textures and colors needed to create a piece, found amongst elements of nature, urban surroundings, and miscellaneous findings. Once I’ve gathered enough images to fill a palate, I start to build the piece by cutting out sections from each photograph and placing them together like a puzzle. There’s an intricate rhythm that takes place during the creation of the work, it can be blissful, therapeutic, even
chaotic, though it never fails to move me.