James Harold Jennings

James Harold Jennings lived all of his 69 years in a rural area near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Eccentric and reclusive as a child, he was homeschooled by his mother. As an adult, he worked as a projectionist in a movie theatre and helped on his family’s tobacco farm. He lived with his mother until her death in 1974, at which point his creative impulses were awakened. He moved out of his mother’s house and began assembling a series of abandoned school buses across the road from the home he had grown up in; it was out of this unlikely setting that he lived and created a fantastical and powerful environment that showcased his artistic talent. His “Art World” was an explosion of color and movement that became a pilgrimage destination for art fans far and wide. Although he remained shy and reclusive, his pride in sharing his “Amazon Women” paintings (which attested to the superiority of women over men), his spectacular crowns, and his articulated ferris wheels was evident. Jennings committed suicide on his 69th birthday, in 1999. Since his death, he has finally begun to receive some of the recognition he so deserves. The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, NC, mounted an exhibition of his life and work in 2002 entitled “Health, Happiness, and Metempsychosis.”

(Bio used with permission from The Ginger Young Gallery)