ART AT TSION: Jimmy James Greene
Jimmy James Greene
Since his childhood in Xenia, Ohio, Jimmy James Greene has shown exceptional artistic ability. After apprenticing with acclaimed afro-centric muralist Jon Onye Lockard in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Greene graduated from The Rhode Island School of Design. Since then he has gone on to become an accomplished collagist, painter draftsman and designer who also works with stained glass, print making and mosaic tile. For the past twenty five years his work has explored the communal expressions of the African diaspora in general, and those of the African-American experience in particular. “I see myself as a visual story teller,” says Greene. “The styles I use range from tight representation to abstracted forms, depending upon my intent, but the bottom line is communication. Ideally my work will act as a springboard for the viewer into their own imagination, their own experiences, memories and aspirations.”
As a fine artist Greene has executed over thirty one-person exhibitions and innumerable group showings. As a commercial artist he has theater posters, CD covers and many newspaper, magazine and book cover illustrations to his credit.
More recently Greene has been commissioned to do public works of art by The New York Transit Authority, New York’s City Parks Foundation, Met Life and St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Brooklyn. “Public commissions are like coming full circle,” says Greene. “I started out as a mural apprentice and now I’m doing similar large-scale works that have to be fabricated to last for centuries, to be seen by thousands of people yearly!”
“Art isn’t like sports – it’s not about the fastest run or the most points scored in a game. Art is about expressing a point of view, one’s self, and there are a whole lot of points of view,” Greene says. “There are many ways of seeing life’s experiences. There hasn’t been a culture on the face of the earth that didn’t express itself through art and, I believe there isn’t a person that doesn’t respond to art on one level or another. We’re just wired that way, thank God.”
Greene’s latest series, “Ancestral Layers,” is a hybrid of his colorful abstract collages layered under representational transparent paintings on plexi-glass. “Miles Davis said the skies the limit when you’re creating a new thing, and with “Ancestral Layers” that’s what I feel. We all live in layers, our past informs our present. We live within multiple layers. It’s personal, it’s familiar, it’s racial and it’s about culture and class. It’s all that at once and it affects everyone. You can’t swim in the water and not get wet’.”
For the past twenty-six years he has resided in New York City as an arts educator and a working artist.