Jim Collins was born in Huntington West Virginia in 1934 and lives in Signal Mountain Tennessee. He studied art in Marshal University, West Virginia, holds an M.P.H. degree from the University of Michigan, and an M.F.A. degree in sculpture from Ohio University. He works in a variety of media and exhibits widely in the U.S and Ireland.
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“My mixed media collages with assemblage frames are somewhat challenging in that the art is not finalized until the viewer completes it. In general, there is no prearranged single story, idea, or philosophy inherent in the work. Because the work is made of many parts on different layers each viewer will see different parts one at a time, and in turn will assign a value to each part of the work as it relates to the whole. That is within the viewer’s frame of reference. Specifically, some will see simple pattern or recognize symbols, a logo, or familiar images. All of the apparent parts will determine what is important to each individual in making up the art. Ideally, this experience will be much like theatre, in that the stage is set and the viewer writes the play.”
Jim Collins was born in Huntington, West Virginia, on the Ohio River. Rivers have always held a fascination and mystery for the artist. From as early as five years old he was making moulded animals of clay given to him by his father and according to his mother, who in later life became a painter herself, “Jim spent much of his time doing creative things.” Although none of his family studied art in a formal capacity, many of his relatives were artistic. Family influences came from observation of and the encouragement from his Grandmother (who was a naïve painter), uncles and an aunt that had talent in oil painting. Probably the greatest influence came from working summers and some weekends with his Grandfather, a retired C&O railroad worker and farmer. Granddad, as he was called, was a master of recycling with the ability of turning tossed out articles into useful items. This early training is evidenced in many of Collins’ sculptures and most of his mixed media collages.
Besides Granddad, the inspiration that guides the concepts and execution of his work comes from the beautiful forms and combinations of materials found in Egyptian sculpture , the timeless stories of the human condition that can be discovered through Classical Mythology and the power of Folk Art, an alternate way of communication using whatever is available, bringing us back to Granddad.
Art education was somewhat a rarity in river towns and the hills of West Virginia. However, while attending St. Joseph High School in Huntington, with no art instruction, Sister did allow him to take an Art Class at Huntington High School where there was an outstanding instructor. After graduation he entered Marshall University pursuing his favourite subject. There he studied with a Joseph Jablonski, who insisted on the finest craftsmanship in an old world tradition. After receiving his Art Degree, Collins went to work for the local Health Department. In 1960 he received a scholarship to attend the University of Michigan to study Public Health Education. He received a M.P.H. degree in 1961 and returned to Huntington working until the “the call to return to art” became his guide. In 1963 the family moved to Athens, Ohio, to work for a District Health Department and pursue a sculpture degree at Ohio University. His new boss, Dr. H. M. Boocks, who sympathized with Collins’ dream of a career in art, allowed him to attend a few art history classes during the day by making up the time presenting lectures to interested groups in the evening. Studio classes were jam-packed into nights and weekends. It was a busy three years.
Armed with a M.F.A. degree Collins started teaching at the University of Chattanooga, later to become the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga continuing until 1983 when the full-professor quit his job in protest of the inequities in salaries and the lack of loyalty of a top-heavy University.
Following the romantic notion of making a living as artists, Collins and his wife Debbe left Chattanooga and moved to Ripley, Ohio. In Ripley they renovated an 1860 Old Bank building on the banks of the Ohio River. This became both home and studio for the pair until 1987 when they returned to Chattanooga.
The work in the Louth County Collection, Texas Hold’em is inspired by the poker game of that name. The currency bills used in the work are 50 mark bills from hyperinflation Germany, circa 1920. He had some at home, but began to run out when making the piece, and located a seller in Brooklyn who had a hundred, so he purchased them replenish his stock. Every element in this piece that surrounds the old photograph of the men playing cards is currency from different times and countries.The cowhide that surrounds the piece is taken from cowhide rugs that his wife bought for their house. It is the only collage that the artist has framed in fur.“Texas Hold’em is a favorite of mine, is now and will always be. I am honoured to have it the collection of County Louth.”
Find out more about this artist here: www.collins3d.com