A Solo Exhibition of Detroit Artistic Royalty Debuts at the Norwest Gallery of Art | Things to do | Detroit

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James Charles Morris is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist who works in painting, printmaking, illustration, collage and photography.

James Charles Morris is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist engaged in the creative visual media practices of painting, printmaking, illustration, collage and photography for over 20 years. He has used his work to engage in various social conversations on the topics of race, spirituality, history, mental well-being and community.

He’s also the scion of Detroit art royalty — Dell Pryor, the gallerist dubbed the “grande dame” of Detroit’s art scene, is his grandmother — so art, Detroit, and black entrepreneurship have long been doing part of his line.

Morris founded Definitive Style Exclusive in 2008, the unique boutique that has stood on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Broadway Street for years. The small boutique was often frequented by Detroit residents and visitors who admired Morris’ unique t-shirt and accessory designs. The business has since moved online and the owner has focused on his art.

“Once a concept comes to mind for a collage,” Morris writes in his artist statement, “I go out and photograph what I see as the textures and colors needed for this piece, found among the things we normally take for granted. Once I’ve collected enough images to fill my palate, I begin to construct the piece by cutting out elements from each photograph and putting them together like a puzzle. For me, it’s It’s like a dance, allowing the subject to be the rhythm at which I move.

With this latest exhibition, Find value, Morris aims to explore the relationship between personal and social values, and the moments of growth that flow from them, through a collection of mixed media collages. A year-long process to complete, each piece features an emotional test that will be communicated through the artist’s voice audio recordings, which will be featured alongside the artwork.

Via a press release, Morris notes that his artistic influence began to show early on, as he took objects found around his home and created new works. However, his family connections also influenced his development. His gallery owner grandmother who was a guardian of Detroit’s art scene for four decades exposed Morris to many emerging artists and masters.

“Curiosity is my driving force, it allows me to explore, see and feel things in a way that creates a sense of wonder towards my work,” writes Morris. “This spirit has been part of my artistic journey since childhood, and in my current digital collage practice, I find myself returning to a time when I created whenever I felt inspired, while using whatever I could find at my disposal, to make the art in my mind.The way I create my work involves all of the different practices, influences and experiences that I have engaged in for over 30 years.

He writes that 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. As a Detroit native, Morris also always emphasized Detroit in his work.

“With Find value, I found it necessary to depict moments of personal introspection, as evidenced by each character immortalized in the work,” writes Morris. “Reinvention, self-confidence, pride, purpose, love, inspiration, mental well-being and spirituality are the themes of each piece.”

The exhibition will begin with an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 15 at the Norwest Gallery of Art; 19556 Grand River Ave, Detroit; 313-293-7344; norwestgallery.com. The show runs until Sunday, November 13.

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