James Kirby lived most of his life in Chesapeake, Virginia. He is best known for his woodcuts which were influenced by his love of Japanese wood block printing. He discovered his love for the medium while living in Chicago in the 1950's. At that time he was working for Rand McNally while pursuing a BFA degree in art at the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been shown widely throughout Virginia and North Carolina. He has been included in two shows sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, among others.
My works are not what they are, but what is essential, a mental model of the physical world. In trying to understand the nature of things, I compose with bold images. The landsdcape is reduced to shapes. Simplicity brings balance. My spontaneity is expressed in color, such as the delightful little surprises of the unexpected in Chinese painting. I never paint color schemes; my colors are surreal. I paint memories, sounds, edges, silences.
- Conversation with James Kirby, April 9, 1991