As a child hearing heroic tales of saints and angels was remarkable. They were the epitome of virtue, but as I grew, the depictions and morals of these characters became something I struggled to accept and understand. It was disheartening that my values and beliefs no longer aligned with these heroes I once looked up to. I grew farther and farther from these ideas, but rather than move away from them, I decided to appropriate them. Taking these religious figures from my youth, I have crafted narratives that reflect my understanding of virtue as an adult.
Through the use of acrylic paint and pastels, I have created stage-like sets within my paintings for the characters to enact these narratives. These works have a heavy emphasis on pockets of light shining from the background and contrasting colors, both of which are inspired by the appearance of stained-glass windows. The flattened figures resemble those of Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas, whose work has been a large inspiration for my series. His use of flattened forms and geometric shapes to simplify narratives has greatly impacted my approach to storytelling. With the use of light, geometric shapes, and abstract figures, I have redefined influential stories from my past and created narratives that better reflect my beliefs.
About the Artist
James O’Shea was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 1998. He will be a 2021 graduate of York College of Pennsylvania and is pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art, with a specialty in painting. He was the recipient of the Thomas A. & Georgina T. Russo Family Foundation scholarship to participate in Intensive Summer Study and Seminar Programs at Mt. Gretna School of Art, Mt. Gretna, PA. O’Shea has been included in a variety of exhibitions including Emerging Visions at Creative York Galleries, York, PA, and Rapidity at the Coni Wolf Gallery, Marketview Arts, York College of Pennsylvania, York PA. He won an Honorable Mention Award for his Imagine Landscape in the 2019 Annual Juried Student Exhibition (Juror: Stephen Towns) and a Second Place Award in the 2021 Annual Juried Student Exhibition (Juror:Susanne Slavick). He is currently participating in Collaboration: Fine Art Senior Exhibition, York, PA. This year he will attend the Seminar Program at Mt. Gretna School of Art.