Our featured artist of the month is James Aaron Dunn, a Harrisburg-native and Philadelphia-dwelling artist who has created paper cuts and watercolors inspired by flora and fauna.
James's work will be up through the end of the month, with an opening reception on Sunday, September 13th from 11am to 4pm as part of the 27th Annual Harrisburg Gallery Walk. His work can also be viewed during 3rd in the Burg on Friday, September 18th from 4pm to 8pm.
Tell us about yourself -- who are you and what do you do?
I grew up in Harrisburg, where I attended Central Dauphin and Capital Area School for the Arts before heading to college at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. I'm 6ft tall, have red hair, and blue eyes. I am a printmaker, hefty applicator of sunblock, and borderline insomniac that enjoys exploring new places, researching things on Wikipedia, and creating scenarios in my head. Currently I work with middle and high school students as a teaching artist for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
What’s the inspiration behind this collection?
My fascination with flora and fauna is due in large part to a very early introduction from my dad. I remember spending countless hours walking around the park together, and it remains one of my favorite places to this day. My dad has always had a fascination with birds and this captivation spread to me as well. I am constantly amazed by the ability of flight and how this form of transportation seems so graceful and effortless regardless of the species or size of the bird.
What was your process like for creating this work?
When I am thinking about creating a paper-cut I usually draw my designs onto cardstock before cutting them out using an x-acto knife. For this particular installation I ended up folding the paper to cut two images. This allowed me to fold the wings down to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object. Hanging these 3D paper-cuts allowed me to make the piece more interactive. My intent is that when the viewers walk past the sculptures, their draft will help the birds to move, creating the illusion of flight.
What keeps you creating?
I am a firm believer that every living moment is a learning moment. Art continues to inform me visually, physically, and mentally. For me, having myself involved in a number of projects and keeping busy comes pretty naturally. Art has always been a therapeutic endeavor for me. That’s something I always want to hold on to while creating.
Do you have any other artistic endeavors up your sleeve at this time?
Currently I am gearing up to start the new school year and welcome my kids back to the classroom. We will be working with a number of visiting artists throughout the year that I am looking forward to. I will also continue to make my own work. I’m interested in trying out some more site-specific paper-cutting.