James McCain, American (1944 - )
An affinity for nature and the beauty in the wilderness around him has made a definite impact on the art work of Jim McCain. Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1944, and raised in rural Iowa, McCain carried his love of the outdoors into his adult life no matter where he lived or traveled. "As a child I remember spending all my free time roaming the fields and woods," he states "sketching my surroundings and working in watercolors. I was particularly attracted to birds at an early age and taught myself the names of most species."
After attending college at the University of Montana and the San Francisco Art Institute he fulfilled a lifelong dream to go to Alaska. He worked as a commercial fisherman every summer in the late '60's and became attracted to the art and culture of the Northwest Coast Indians. Wood carvings began to fill all his spare time after watching the local carvers making totem poles. McCain's first sculptures in wood at this time led to an exhibition at the Alaska State Museum.
During Alaskan winters McCain satisfied his curiosity of other cultures with trips to Europe, Africa, India, Asia, the Middle East and Central America. In 1973 he studied bronze casting at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico, and then went on to settle in Colorado where he continues to work in both wood and bronze. "I can enjoy the way wood responds to tools and can give the feeling of warmth and beauty all it's own", McCain says. "It's a living material full of hidden surprises and unpredictable qualities. It's great diversity of grain directions, colors, & stone, wood remains McCain's favorite. "I can use wood laminations techniques as a means to increase the scale of my work, and an no longer hampered by limits of log sizes."
He states, "Wood has possibilities limited only by my imagination. My sculptural forms are not intended to represent specific natural species, but to express certain insights which are universal in nature. The abstract quality of the sculpture comes from simplification and elimination. I'm not interested in literal imitation of nature which tends to overlook the whole for the sake of accuracy of detail. It is more important that the inner reality be adequately discovered."
McCain has recently had a few of his pieces cast in bronze, and according to the magazine American Artist he is quite excited about the possibilities. "The brilliant mirror-like surfaces reflect on themselves, as well as on their surroundings, and make the form far more abstract."