James Dye won the Sally R. Bishop Prize for Best in Show at the 2017 Worcester Biennial (on view at ArtsWorcester thru 6/2). Biennial juror Samantha Cataldo (Currier Museum of Art) selected James’ dip pen and india ink drawing The Temple of the Burdened Host (pictured above), and along with a $1,000 prize, James will have a solo exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum in the 2017-18 season.
Here, the artist shares details about his in-home studio and the way it impacts the creation of his highly detailed, wildly inventive drawings.
When my wife and I purchased our house, the best room for my studio happened to be the only space painted the exact shade of yellow that has chased me my entire life. It was the color of my childhood room and found me again in my first apartment and repeatedly over the years. Although I hate the yellow and feel a simple white would serve me better, I haven’t found the time to repaint. I suppose there’s a sense that if the color has been here waiting for me, then I must be in the right place. Or maybe I just prefer to keep it somewhere I can watch it closely.
My furnishings are simple. I have a drafting table, desk, some wooden crates, an old couch, filing cabinet, small shelves, and a folding table. Reading relaxes and inspires me, so I always have books around. I also have a record, DVD, and CD player to shake up the silence when it gets too thick.
I’m located on the second floor, but when the door shuts I like to imagine that I have left the world entirely. Working with dip pen and India ink is a very intimate and time consuming process, and like any relationship of length, there are periods of anger, resentment, and doubt that, once conquered, yield elation and joy. I find it necessary to cut off any avenue of escape from the piece, forcing us to learn to live together. The curtains in the room are light blocking, with only the window facing the woods left uncovered to serve as a porthole.
During the research and planning stage of a piece, I plaster the wall behind the drafting table with sketches, doodles, notes, articles, and pictures related to the new work. As the piece evolves, this area becomes more and more cluttered with new ideas covering old ones. Part of the ritual of starting a new work is sorting through this muddle and removing anything superfluous. Interesting ideas that didn’t find a home are left up and mixed with fresh ones, inviting connections and helping to steer the course of inspiration.
There’s an ink stain on the carpet now, the largest spill I’ve ever had. It happened during the course of my last piece, along with a rather nasty cut to my finger suffered during a crude attempt to sharpen a pencil. The longer you spend in a space, the more you shape each other, and so we celebrate our scars together, this odd yellow room and me.
Visual artist James Dye is the recipient of the Sally R. Bishop Prize for Best in Show at the 2017 Worcester Biennial from Arts Worcester, which includes a solo exhibition at Worcester Art Museum in 2018. He is currently exhibiting in the Cambridge Art Association’s National Prize Show and will exhibit at the Fitchburg Art Museum in June 2017.
Images: all images courtesy of the artist.