Landscapes Without Boundaries
Why my work looks the way it does-
By Jim Shirley
I was born in New York City. I grew up during a time that was one of the most culturally fertile periods of my life. The Harlem Renaissance was just coming to a close. There was a surge of expression and a sense of creative discovery everywhere. The community life that I recall was robust and exuberant at every turn.
I can still remember the music of everyday life. Storefront churches permeated the air with their sounds of spiritual renewal. The voices of street vendors, the juke boxes from the local candy stores, rang out with songs of joy, remorse, victory over the odds of life, and the trails and tribulations of the ever healing heart.
The street sounds of those days seemed to define our collectivity. In those sounds I heard the ancestral voice of the drum summoning my people to gather. It was a rich time, and we were confident, still innocent of the great confrontations that awaited us, the apocalyptic revelations that have followed us throughout our history, and absorb us to this day.
I have lived in Nunavut for over three decades. I have shared experience with Inuit for all of the time I have lived in the north. I have seen first-hand their strong traditions and art, the skills which are derived from their close association with a difficult and beautiful landscape. I share with them the same longing for a harmony between myself and my surroundings. In this harmony, we hope to find self-sufficiency, a peace and freedom that nurtures our survival, our growth.
In these works, which span a period of several decades, I often attempted to bridge my inner-city and northern worlds, and tried to make the synergy between matter and time, the spirit and the void visible. I am reaching within myself for knowledge and harmony to displace the uncertainty that seems to be my greatest challenge in life.