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James Terrell


James Stephen Terrell is a native Washingtonian who was reared in Ward 7. His parents are Rev. Dr. James E. Terrell, Pastor of historic Second Baptist Church of Washington D.C. and Retired Superior Court Associate Judge Mary A. Terrell of the Superior Court of Washington D.C. He received his high school diploma from Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C. He received the Bachelor of Fine Art in 1999 from Howard University, Master of Fine Arts in 2002 from Parsons School of Design in New York City and the Master of Divinity Degree from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City with a concentration on Theology and the Fine Arts in 2006. While attending Union Theological Seminary, he pursued Fine Arts painting elective courses at Columbia University.  Terrell has exhibited his work all over the country and had multiple solo shows including at museums.

Artist Statement

I believe that art is reflective of the reality that lies beneath the natural, physical appearance of human existence. Art is historical, political, psychological, musical and emotional. Art is a form of a deeper understanding that exposes the truths of life. Art is a visual language that is devoted to depicting the visual contemplation of the human experience. Art is a doorway, open to expressing various levels of human emotion and truth through the forms of pattern, texture, shape, line, shade, color, contour and shadow. Art is important because it provides an outlet for our youth to express many of the issues confronting them today in a positive manner. Art is a commentary on one’s environment. Art is an examination of humanity. Although different streams of consciousness, ethnicity, and spirituality exist and struggle within all of humanity, the different elements of art come together to convey and explore the concerns, joys and beauty that exist within all of humanity. 


My art can visually attract individuals notwithstanding the age, race, color, ethnic, religious or creed of the viewer. The paintings represent shared life experiences.  At times all humans contemplate life, love, religion, decisions made and decisions yet to be made.

My paintings investigate and resemble the physical and spiritual experience and our very existence. As people we all sit and wonder what is, what was, what is to come and what will be. The experiences, although individual to one’s own heart, are experiences that bind us and bring us together like the fingers of an open or closed hand. Like the lines placed on the canvas, we are intricately woven together by the strands of the human experience.

My art mirrors a physical and spiritual reality. The art is a reflection of joy, pain and confusion, contemplation and deliverance. The paintings seek to regenerate, provoke and inspire the conscious and unconscious thoughts that surround and influence the soul. The gently placed and layered lines in the art are reminiscent of electric wires carrying the currant of spiritual mobility and vitality.

Through contemplation we as individuals and as people can surmount personal and social limitations. Life is a complex. Trying to keep the mind, body and soul together on one accord is a challenge that we all must face.

My art seeks to take the viewer on a visual ride through the silent places between thought thereby allowing revelation and transformation of the human consciousness to occur. 


News interview and articles about James Terrell and his art

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