James Anthony Faris is a sculptor, writer, photographer and mixed media artist from Southeast Georgia living and working in Fargo, ND. Mr. Faris graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in Photography. In 2014, Mr. Faris completed his M.F.A. from Georgia Southern University in 3D Art. Mr. Faris is a co-founding member of the Stillmoreroots group: a rural arts advocacy group. He has worked in community development as Education and Outreach Director of Gallery RFD and Director of Downtown Development for the City of Swainsboro. He currently works as Gallery Coordinator and Curator of Collections for North Dakota State University.
More about Anthony:
My intellectual and conceptual growth as an artist began as a Photography major at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I felt limited in the capacity of my media to engage viewers. In 2002, I co-founded the artist’s group Stillmoreroots to exercise my creative potential by exploring new media in new environments. The group’s first exhibition, Art in the Woods, was held in a managed pine forest in rural Emanuel County Georgia. The outdoor venue posed logistical issues that shaped the new group’s philosophy. Art in the Woods was held hours away from large metropolitan areas, so the event required travel from urban viewers interested in experiencing a rural art happening. Emanuel County residents who had traditionally been underserved by art programming, would now be offered an introduction to a contemporary art exhibition in the convenience of their backyard.
Art in the Woods is a one-day event, taking place on the Spring Equinox, so art works are created as site-specific, temporary structures. The group agreed that works would not be for sale so viewers could appreciate pieces solely on their compositional and conceptual merits, not their economic value. Art in the Woods was developed on principles of creating challenging works that encouraged engaging dialogue between artists and viewers, negating the need for gallery representation to market, sell or instruct visitors. Since 2003, Stillmoreroots has hosted twenty-five exhibitions with these philosophical ambitions in mind, including ten annual Art in the Woods events.
Following three years of travel, work and exhibitions, I moved to Swainsboro, GA ,in Emanuel County to start an artist’s community with Stillmoreroots. The collective’s decision to concentrate its attention on one location, instigated new objectives and creative. Personally, I was inspired to explore new media from natural materials found within the community. I created a body of work called Rural Reconstructions with the intention of sharing the unique narratives intrinsic to the area’s regional identity. This work resulted from my growing role within the community. The group, too, became identified for community and art advocacy and as a member, I found a source of pride in the landscape and community history.
In 2006 I received a grant to begin an Art Incubator in Downtown Swainsboro called Gallery RFD (RFD) to offer education, outreach and exhibition opportunities to Emanuel County. In 2008, I was hired as the City of Swainsboro’s first Director of Downtown Development (DDA). RFD and DDA reinforced a growing awareness of how the arts can play a vital role in social, cultural and economic prosperity and identity of a region. By coordinating festivals, events and development strategies, I was given the opportunity to collaborate and engage with diverse populations with varied perspectives. As DDA Director, I was encouraged to regard the community’s history in each decision I made to benefit the region’s future. These responsibilities formed a greater appreciation for regional identity, growing my desire to create works of art that explore, celebrate and conserve the experiences and traditions of rural Emanuel County.
In 2011, I began my candidacy as a 3D Master’s student at Georgia Southern University in Bulloch County, Georgia. My current work includes explorations of site-specific installation referencing the raw physicality of life through working with materials that change state.