Ransome was born in North Carolina and moved to a New Jersey suburb as a teenager. He graduated from Pratt Institute and was a tenured professor in the School of Visual Performing Arts at Syracuse University before retiring to pursue his dreams of being a studio artist. He received his MFA in Studio Arts from Lesley University.
My artwork centers on my African-American lineage, which is traced back to sharecroppers of the American South who migrated to Northern cities along the East Coast. My pictorial narratives are personal, yet the symbols I use are universal and interplay with larger social, racial, ancestral, economic, and political histories that inform our nation to this day. The history of my family is the history of black Americans, which is the history of all of North America.
In my works, I often combine acrylic paint with an array of found, made, and purchased papers. The materials I use are conceptual statements on this legacy of an often-overlooked portion of society that made something out of nothing.
Both my representational and abstract works incorporate a variety of symbols, patterns, and marks to create powerful images filled with the rhythmic properties of music that weave throughout my oeuvre. Born in a generation infused by soul and R&B music, I grew up hearing rap music that freely sampled the music of my childhood, mixing and recomposing these songs to create rhythms befitting to hip hop music. In my work, my natural instinct is to paint and collage on the same surface, applying the same spontaneity of hip hop deejays and the resourcefulness of rural quilters, who use what is at hand, assembling, collaging, and creating.
While made of the energy of contemporary culture, my work is also influenced by Abstract Expressionism and draws from the soulfulness of the quilts from the women of Gee’s Bend. For me, there is a visual rhythm to layering these antipodes: found versus purchased objects, figures versus abstract, paint versus paper, busy versus quiet.
My work aims to imbue each piece with a lyrical yet authentic resilience borne of limited resources and frugality that speaks to the struggle and hope, pain, joy, and soul of folks in the black community.
MFA Lesley University Cambridge, MA
BFA Pratt Institute Brooklyn , NY
AWARDS and GRANTS
2004 Dutchess County Arts Council, Art Award for Individual Artist
2000 Winner of the Paterson, NJ Public Library national search depicting Paterson’s connection to the Underground Railroad
1997 Pratt Institute, Alumni Achievement Award
FELLOWSHIPS, RESIDENCIES and WORKSHOPS
2020 Collage Workshop, Lesley University
2006- 2020 Associate Professor, Syracuse University, School of Visual and Performing Arts
2000-2003 Visiting Adjunct Professor, Pratt Institute, Fall 2000 through Spring 200
1998-1999 Visiting Associate Professor, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
2020 Crenson Solo Show at Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY, curated by Ashley James, recently appointed Associate Curator, Contemporary Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
2016 “Painting with Paper,” Rhinebeck Library, Rhinebeck, NY
2008 "The Fine Art of James Ransome,” Martin L. King, Jr. branch, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, OH
“Down Home" St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, Hayti Heritage Center, Durham, NC
2007 “The Fine Art of James Ransome,” exhibit Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Council, Texarkana, TX,
“The Fine Art of James Ransome,” Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI,
“The Fine Art of James Ransome,” University, Union, New Jersey,
“The Two Sides of James Ransome,” Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, CT.
“Landscapes and Quilts,” Cunneen Hackett Cultural Center, Poughkeepsie, NY
2006 “The Fine Art of James Ransome,” Miami Dade County Public Library, Miami, FLA
2002 “The Fine Art of James Ransome,” opened at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
“Interpreting,” Pratt Institute, New York, NY
“A Life’s Journey,” Ben Shahn Center Galleries, William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ
1998 "Finding My People" Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles, CA
1996 "Unbound" show received into the permanent collection, Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library, Charlotte, NC
1991 "The Art of Ransome" exhibit, Ubiquitous Gallery, Charlotte, NC
Group and Juried Exhibitions
2021 "Kinship: The Inspiration of Artistic Connection" A virtual exhibition with Art Mid-Hudson, I have brought together a curation of works by a few of the artists who have, in some way, contributed to my artistic growth. Exhibiting artists include: Deborah Roberts, Philemona Williamson, Deborah Davidson, Robert Freeman, Alex Jackson, Jenny Nelson, Ruby Palmer, Peter Rostovsky, Ben Sloat, Laurel Sparks, Deb Todd Wheeler, and others
"Soul on Art: Ghosts of Africa” Spencer Art Gallery in Tequesta, FL 4 paintings and six collages. Group
exhibit including Leonardo Drew, Adam Pendleton, William Kwamena-Poh, Kara Walker, and Purvis Young
2020 The SALLY Project, virtual exhibit, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA
“I Am My Best Work,” The Painting Center, NYC, a show featuring work by fifteen BIPOC,
“The Margins,” a national juried exhibition, Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY, judged by Anthony Elms, the Daniel, and Brett Sundheim, chief curator, ICA Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania.
2019 “Not a Metric Matters,” Syracuse Art Galleries, Syracuse, NY
2018 “Black History Month in Kingston,” The Lace Mill, Kingston, NY
2017 “The Luminous Landscape 2017: 20 Years - 20 Artists,” Albert Shahinian Gallery, Rhinebeck, NY
2016 “Known and Unknown,” Community Folk Art Center, Syracuse, NY
2012 Group exhibit at Dutchess Community College, Poughkeepsie, NY
2009 “International Fine Art Auction: A Pride of African Tale,” Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie, NY
9 Paintings Exhibited in Northern Dutchess Studio Views
XL Project, Faculty Show, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
“Art Studio Views: An Open Studio Event,” Rhinebeck, NY
“The Winter in Rhinebeck,” Rhinebeck Savings Bank/Dutchess County Arts Council, Rhinebeck, NY
“Let them Eat Art,” G.A.S. Visual Art & Performance Space, Poughkeepsie, NY
2005 “Imagine the Possibilities,” Princeton Day School, Princeton, NJ
1998 “Down Under and Over Here,” Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, MI
1997 “Shared Stories: Exploring Cultural Diversity,” traveling group show, Exhibits USA
“Zero Degrees of Separation,” Pennsylvania School of Art and Design, Philadelphia, PA
1996 “Lasting Impressions,” Exhibits at the Chicago Art Institute group show
1994 “Lasting Impressions,” traveling exhibit, California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
2021 The View From Here, A collection of figurative and collages works, published by Sharp Press
2020 Cornrows, A collection of collages, published by Sharp Press