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Born partially deaf, it took many surgeries until James Sturnfield was finally able to hear at the age of  2. He grew up with a speech impediment and was unable to properly read or write for many years to come. 


These early delays in hearing, speech and comprehension, foreshadowed a path into his heightened imagination, visual communication and expression. He found it wasn’t just a hobby or a skill, but a need for his health and survival. 


With the love and support from his parents, he was able to obtain the services necessary to eventually overcome his early childhood battles… but not without becoming a bit of a loner and rebel growing up. From that point on, James had been gathering his signature artistic elements through vivid colors, figures, and objects such as gloves, masks, arrows, televisions, chairs and smoke, all within a very dreamlike landscape. He also learned to release his darker, mysterious suppressions through graffiti art to relieve his mind. 


These ideas began as an attempt to understand himself and how he was different. An outsider. He felt his disability had separated and isolated him socially and academically from the start. Even from his own art instructors and classes. 


James studied art further in college where he pursued his natural skills in painting, drawing and sculpture at The American Academy of Art in Chicago IL, and North Eastern Illinois University. He now studies fine art drawing and painting at Atelier Eftimov in Chicago. 


Today, James has been making his name known in the field. Stepping forth with the distinct and daring ideas and colors he brings with him. He shows his work with galleries around Chicago such as Vertical Gallery, Vertical Project Space, Bergart, Line Dot Editions and Vault Gallery. James is also the principal painter of Frame Chicago downtown, creating hand painted mats for high end contemporary art and names such as Hebru Brantly, Mark Ryder, James Jean, Ben Frost and more. On his own, he currently creates at Vertical Project Space Studios, where he plans out his upcoming shows, and sells custom work. 


His mission as a visual artist is to capture and explore a deep, honest range of emotions that come with the human condition and all that it’s worth. To evoke certain feelings void of judgement. This is seen through the sensations he creates such as sound, touch, wind and exigent moods, making it easy for the viewer to be pulled in, escape into his world and imagine as if it’s truly real. In doing so, his intention is to address common themes that often go silent; unite people through common thoughts, feelings and experiences; and to provide nonverbal, empathetic and therapeutic explanations for the things that are important to his viewers. 


James Sturnfield’s art creates an imaginative world we feel we can literally step into, with vibrant colors, movement, sensation and emotive portrayal that lends a safe, inclusive space for us all to address the thoughts that may make us feel unsafe… and to release them.

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