April 9 - May 9, 2021
From the Rockport Center for the Arts:
“Rockport Center for the Arts (RCA) is hosting two shows April 9–May 9: Ref Yous, featuring the unique work of ceramicist/sculptor Richard W. James, as well as with Patterns: Peace and Chaos, featuring the vibrant paintings of Jimi Kabela.
Both exhibitions will be viewable and available for collection at the downtown Rockport galleries. A public reception with the artists will be held Saturday, April 10, from 5–7 p.m. to officially launch the show, which is free and open to the public. A maximum of 50 attendees will be admitted at any one time in the galleries, and all attendees, including visitors, staff, and volunteers, are required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing. The organization follows strict sanitation guidelines recommended by the CDC.
Although Richard W. James’s sculptures have appeared in shows around the world, this will be the first close-to-home solo Texas exhibition for the Texas A&M University Corpus Christi assistant professor of art after his scheduled April 2020 RCA show was postponed due to the pandemic.
Featured in the RCA Main Gallery, James’s unique sculptures employ materials and methods learned from his childhood in the rural south, featuring ceramic heads, hands, and feet with a soft cloth body, embroidered clothing, and found objects often accompanying the toy-like figures.
“These hard and soft materials/methods have come to represent the traditionally feminine and masculine facets of my rural upbringing,” James said in describing the origins of his process. “The clay in my sculptures—a combination of both masculine and feminine—has come to symbolize myself within this trifecta.”
James’s body of work meditates on understanding the cultural lenses shaping his world view. Each work seeks to question the veneer of authority applied to historical events and advocates for taking back ownership of narrative, personal morality, and the use of iconography within this process.
“James’s work is full of ironic juxtaposition” said Elena Rodriguez, curator of exhibitions for RCA. “The hard and soft. High Art with low. Neoclassical aesthetics take on a feeling of patheticism, while the expert craftsmanship is often defaced by the artist’s own hand.”
James began working with ceramics during his undergraduate studies at the University of Tennessee at Martin, continuing his work with the medium at Indiana University and University of Kansas, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics. In 2019, he moved to Corpus Christi after accepting an assistant professor of art position at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.
Featured five times in Ceramics Monthly and profiled in Hi-Fructose Magazine, James held artist in resident positions at The Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Mont. (2017-2019); Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tenn. (2016-2017); and Zhenrutang in Jingdezhen, China (2015). His work is part of permanent collections at the Holter Museum of Art and Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, the Martha Vida Collection, the Porter-Price Collection, Kolva-Sullivan Collection, and Zhenrutang Permanent Collection in Jingdezhen, China. He has been in over 44 exhibitions across the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Following his participation in RCA’s annual juried collegiate exhibition, Rising Eyes of Texas 2020, in which he placed 3rd, Jimi Kabela’s first solo show will be hosted in RCA’s Galeria Dos. Kabela’s work is best described as mixed media, combining painting and fabric to create colorful geometric collages that, when examined closely, depict figurative themes.
Born in 1990 in Mbuji Mayi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kabela moved to the United States in 2000, and has traveled extensively over the past 10 years to more than 15 countries including Italy, France, China, Brazil and Equatorial Guinea.
“I am a byproduct of both African and American cultural and societal influences,” Kabela said. “My primary influence is the African clothing that is worn by the men and women in the Congo and its potential for exuberant expression. Throughout the creative process, I am reconnecting to my roots, depicting the positive rhythms and energies of the Congolese people while muting out the chaos of the outside world.”
“Chaotic peace is a great way to describe Kabela’s work,” Rodriguez said. “He has an incredible ability to combine pattern and color in a kaleidoscopic meditation on optimism and joy. After such a gloomy year, Kabela’s art is the art we need in the world right now.”
Kabela will soon receive his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting with a minor in Design from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). As a member of the Class of 2021, Kabela recently received the Outstanding Senior Award, the most distinguished award presented to graduates at UTA.
Rockport Center for the Arts is located at 401 S. Austin Street at the Baker Law Building, first level. Hours of operation are Tuesday–Thursday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Friday and Sat 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sunday, noon–4 p.m. Admission is always free. Visit rockportartcenter.com, follow RCA on Facebook, or call (361) 729-5519 for more information.”
On View: April 9, 2021 | 1–5 pm
638 E. Market St.
Rockport, 78382 TX