OIL PASTEL CERAMIC
James Ellison was born in Chicago in 1948. At 41/2 he was bitten by a Tsetse fly and contracted Encephalitis Lethargica. His fever rose to 108o and was in a coma for six weeks. The doctors said he would be severely retarded. His parents refused to accept this praying for a full recovery. When his mother brought him home she became his physical therapist training him as if he was an infant. He walked into kindergarten six months late. The Downers Grove school district wanted him in a “special school” but his mother demanded full inclusion becoming his tutor. His mother taught him two important things; a disability is not an excuse but a reason to try harder and he was spared for a purpose, which God would reveal.
His first grade teacher discovered his artistic talent and called him a savant, so his parents found a private art teacher. Three influences that shaped him as an artist were: First a visit to the Art Institute. When he walked through a door to the left was a maze of dots. He asked his mother, “What is this mess?” She told him to turn away and walk to the other side of the room then turn around. There before him was Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. The second was in watching a famous artist and family friend, Warner Sallman create the pastel painting of The Good Shepherd while talking about faith. The third was living near a 100-acre wood, where he spent time exploring and creating his earliest artwork.
James went on for a B.F.A., M.A., M.F.A. and M.Div. becoming an artist, pastor and teacher. Thus he brings to his artwork a unique blend of aesthetics, theology, psychology and creativity calling himself a Symbolic-Realist. As an artist he seeks to communicate the divine will he sees in nature.