James Sylvester '18

MECA and Portland's community is ever inspiring to live within; it's a city filled with artists, small businesses, and programming that value supporting arts and the community. In the future, I look forward to continuing to inspire, enact creativity, visualized imagination, and thoughtfulness within new communities.

I’ve loved to make art as long as I came remember.  Mostly drawing.  I came to MECA after graduating high school, and growing up with fantastically creative friends who helped me to exercise my imagination through everything from large scale drawings of the comic book heroes we’d designed together to DIY 3 person skateboard mobiles made of large pieces of wood, skateboard trucks and wheels and foam padding.  When it came time to think about the things I really cared about devoting my life to, I knew it was my affinity for drawing and my love of bringing things from my imagination to life that deserved my time spent on them.

James Sylvester, We All Must Eat

My current body of work uses a few of my favorite current processes to create separate components of prints that can then be fit together to create a final piece, almost like a puzzle.  The prints have two main components, which work like a problem and a solution.  The problem, in this case, is often an empty stage (a large print, often a linocut or an etching that presents an empty space, whether it is a carving of a book with an empty page or a sprawling grassy landscape) that is waiting to be filled.  The solution would then be what fills that empty stage (other, smaller prints that are carved in anticipation of enhancing and embedding a story or scene into the larger print by building up objects, textures, and characters).  This process allows me to test my own imagination.

James Sylvester, No Thought of Why

I can create a stage that is, say, a somewhat empty forest and then ask myself “What might be the craziest thing I could fill the rest of this forest with?” and choose to simply fill the empty space in the print with leaves or go so far as to print a troll in the forest surrounded by a bunch of baby ducks instead.  I can choose imagery that works together to make points, or just pretty pictures.  Because of the repeatable nature of printmaking, I can actually create prints of both possible outcomes from the same initial stage (different solutions to the same problem) and present them together to encourage people to think about the limits of their own imagination by seeing the variety of ways in which I apply mine.

James Sylvester, A Western Film Was on The Telly

I owe great thanks to the community of MECA and Portland, Maine itself for being where I am currently with my work as it is ever inspiring to live in a city filled with artists as well as small businesses and programs that value promoting the arts and community in general.  This summer I had the fantastic opportunity to work as the summer intern at a print studio in town called The Publication Studio.  There I worked with two other printmakers to teach artists who came in as part of a day program the shop offered how to do various printmaking processes such as mokuhanga style woodcuts, screenprinting, lithography, and monotype and use them to create products that could then be sold in the shop, with 75% of the profits going back to the artists and 25% back to the shop.  We brainstormed events we could involve the community in and accomplish using printmaking techniques, such as large collaborative screen printing demonstrations and even a DIY carnival (in partnership with Bomb Diggity Arts) with all handmade prizes and games.  In the future, I look forward to continuing to inspire and enact creativity and visualized imagination and thoughtfulness within whichever community I am a part of.

James Sylvester, Empty Room