What is imitation? In hindsight, it is often a central concept found in Poetics. It is about creating a relationship between human creativity and the world. In the English Language, it is merely an art of copying or mirroring an observation. For Jim West, the American sculptor, imitation goes far and beyond the traditional understanding. He believes that art is one of the purest forms of imitation where the artist creates his world, driven from real-thoughts and experiences.
In 1884, Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous Scottish novelist wrote in his essay ‘The Humble Remonstrance’:
“Life is monstrous, infinite, illogical, abrupt, and poignant; a work of art in comparison is neat, finite, self-contained, rational, flowing, and emasculate. Life imposes by brute energy, like inarticulate thunder; art catches the ear, among the far louder noises of experience, like an air artificially made by a discreet musician.”
As a full-time sculptor, involved in educating inner city, at-risk and incarcerated youths and an advisor for historic preservation, Jim has contributed significantly towards the preservation of key arts and monuments all over the world. For him, it’s more than just a professional obligation towards the craft. The work he puts forwards clearly portrays the hidden and complex realities of the society.
Jim was classically trained as a sculptor by studying and apprenticing under master artists and craftsmen in New York and on the West Coast. While most artists find their inspiration in their surroundings, such as life itself or Mother Nature, American sculptor Jim West found his inspiration in abstract things. His work is designed in a way that it engages the viewer on an emotional, intuitive and intellectual level. For him, art enables us to feel, challenges us to think, and encourages us to react.
To understand the purpose behind Jim’s art and how it imitates life one must pay close attention to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, E=mc2. The theory sheds light on what people perceive as the work of gravity is basically the curvature of time and space. Based on West’s interpretation of relativity, he created a larger-than-life, multi-faceted sculpture of Albert Einstein, split at the waist being both pulled and pushed from floor to the ceiling.
We live in a community where people will view the same sculpture more than once, hoping to see a different symbolism at every instance. One such work of Jim West was the sculpture famously known as the “Point of View.” The sculpture is a depiction of the monumental meeting between Seneca leader Guyasuta and George Washington that took place in 1770. Two men, once allies then fought against each other only to meet again along the Ohio River.
Point of View is one of the highly acclaimed pieces of artwork that clearly shows West’s intention to bring people outside their comfort zone and explore. However, like all other pieces of artwork, this too carries the perception of its artist. Jim himself commented on this sculpture and said.
“I wanted them to be face to face and closer than normal to depict a conversation that shows the intensity and a bit of uncomfortableness.”
Jim, like most artists in their artistic prime, has at least once depicted the relationship dynamics between a man and a woman using art. “Of One” is a one of a kind sculptures made by Jim West showing the balance of power and responsibilities between a man and woman. If you look at the sculpture from one view, you’ll see a man supporting a woman; from the other view, the roles get reversed.
His distinct fusion of art and technology redefines figurative art and the element of storytelling through intense abstract work that ignites unique emotional and personal responses.
One of the most monumental pieces of artwork by Jim West is entitled “The Bond,” which is a depiction of a monumental event in American history. This piece is installed at the entrance of the Pennsylvania Masonic Museum and Library, which is across from Philadelphia City Hall. ‘The Bond” was commissioned in 2013 by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. “Everything I do is about the story or the narrative,” Jim said.
The sculpture has a rich story that takes its viewers to the time when Ben Franklin traveled to France to negotiate the French involvement in the War of Independence. When the French troops were sent, Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, the troop leader, gave George Washington, the Commander in Chief an apron, depicting the bond between two nations. The sculpture shows Benjamin Franklin receiving the same apron from George Washington. West explains how a single piece of cloth bonded three men and two countries.
Jim has been creating and installing artwork since 2006. Regardless of the subject, the richly textured sculptures of Jim West unravel the layers of intention that resonate, evoke, and stimulate thoughtful introspection among audiences, often discovering they too have lived through the same story.
To ensure the authenticity of every journey and deliver the same intensity as intended, Jim designs and imagines every aspect of the story behind the sculpture. He facilitates the production of every piece from a captivating start to a successful finish.