James’ Art a Respite Even During Pandemic

CHI Health Good Samaritan recently welcomed artist Pat James to its Walkway Gallery. James’ color photography features hills and the Missouri River captured along walks near her cabin in rural Boyd county.

"When my photo-constructions are viewed together, they create a visual portrait of one place over different times of day, seasons, and years. I hope that viewers move imaginatively through these columns, stopping on details and continuing on through the interwoven flow of shapes, colors, textures, and lines," says James in her artist statement.

The gallery has provided a respite and distraction to those walking the hospital’s halls since 2008. It can also be viewed on the hospital’s Walkway Gallery website through November.

Artist’s Statement by Pat James

My work is deeply connected to the 600 acres of hilly pastureland I live on along the Missouri National Recreational River in Boyd County, Nebraska. During much of my life I resided in large cities, so moving to rural Nebraska has challenged me to understand myself and my environment in new ways. When I am walking alone in the hills and along the river, I am part of the ongoing movement of life. Making art about what I see and feel on my hikes has been a healing activity for me.

To evoke a sense of walking, I make what I call "photo-constructions." First, I take a group of several hundred photographs while walking on our land. Returning to my studio, I select 2-25 photos from that group. Using Photoshop, I layer them in a column and digitally remove some areas of sky or vegetation, so that the layers seem to blend together. As I work, I rescale, refine, and rearrange the layers to make a unified composition that is both realistic and surrealistic. All of the parts may seem to be logical, but there are often unexpected changes in scale and placement. Creating each photo-construction is an exploratory and time-consuming process that usually takes me several weeks.

When my photo-constructions are viewed together, they create a visual portrait of one place over different times of day, seasons, and years. I hope that viewers move imaginatively through these columns, stopping on details and continuing on through the interwoven flow of shapes, colors, textures, and lines.

With the exception of the Wild Bergamot Triptych, I printed all of the work myself on archival paper with an inkjet printer. Most of the framed work is for sale, and unframed prints are available on request.

Biography by Pat James

Although I was born and raised in the Chicago area and eventually became an associate professor of art at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, I have deep roots here in Nebraska. My father was born in 1914 on a homestead in the Nebraska Sandhills. After World War II, he worked as an advertising art director in Chicago and purchased property along the Missouri River in the late 1950s for duck hunting. I came to love this land over many visits with him, and when I retired from the U of MN, I started a new life here in my late father’s hunting cabin.

I’ve shown my photo-constructions in a number of solo exhibits, including the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, IA; Crane Trust in Wood River; NE; Norfolk Arts Center in Norfolk, NE; Nebraska Governor’s Residence in Lincoln, NE; Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD; Fred Simon Gallery in Omaha, NE; and Dakota Discovery Museum in Mitchell, SD.

About the Walkway Gallery

The Walkway Gallery is a dedicated corridor connecting the main hospital to the West Tower at Good Samaritan. This gallery gives regional artists more than 200 feet of display space with lighting and security systems to professionally highlight their artistic works. It was developed as part of Good Samaritan's Planetree philosophy of patient-centered healing.

The Art Sterring Committee follows a competitive selection process using documented research criteria for art that supports healing in a hospital environment to choose the artists featured in the gallery. A new artist will display his or her works every four months. To submit art for consideration, please contact the Foundation at (308) 865-2700.

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