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Skip Navigation LinksHome > Artists by last name > Jennings, James Harold

James-Harold Jennings (1930 - 1999)

James Harold Jennings lived his entire life in rural North Carolina near Winston-Salem.

Being an introverted and somewhat eccentric child, his mother decided to homeschool him. As a grown man, James worked as a projectionist and raised tobacco. James lived with his mother, who passed away in 1974.

It was her death that triggered his interest in art. No longer able to live in his mother's house, he cobbled together a series of abandoned school busses across the street. This is where James created his artistic environment. This "Art World" became a Mecca for folk art enthusiasts around the country.

James remained a shy person even after his fame spread. Even so, he loved to share his "Amazon Women" paintings with anyone who stopped by. These depictions were a recurring theme which no doubt attested to his belief in women's superiority to men. Among other themes in James work are his decorated crowns and fully articulated ferris wheels.

James work was inspired in his own words by "electroencephalography and metempsychosis." Metempsychosis being the belief that after death, the soul begins a new cycle of existence in another human body, somewhat like reincarnation.

On his sixty-ninth birthday, James Harold Jennings took his own life.

The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem mounted an exhibition of his life and work in 2002 entitled "Health, Happiness, and Metempsychosis."

His once impressive "Art World" environment is now gone.

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