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Meet the Artist – Laura James

April 6, 2022 | Clara Buckley

Our first field trip in two years! Fourth and fifth grade had an exciting opportunity to meet a working artist, Laura James, whose paintings are very familiar to us from our Lenten Worship. James uses the Ethiopian Christian style for her religious paintings. A style she first discovered in her late teens and called, “A gift from God”.

In art class, students learned about James’ art and now we had the chance to see her paintings in person. Students viewed and sketched from the fourteen Stations of the Cross paintings exhibited at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. These paintings are a commission to bring a culturally relevant rendition of the fourteen Stations of the Cross to St. Jean Baptiste Parish Sassier, Haiti.

After time with the art, we had time with the artist. Laura James shared about her inspiration and her process. She loves to tell stories through her art and the Bible is full of stories. Recently James worked on a series of four paintings telling the story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus after the Resurrection.

Students were eager to ask their questions…

What do you do when you get stuck with your art? Go outdoors, sometimes to the Bronx River.

Did your parents support you being an artist? They were very proud when the TV news in Antigua played a documentary about me.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Something to do with computers.

Favorite ice cream flavor? Pistachio

How many paintings have you made? More than 250.

Who was your hero when you were in fourth grade? Probably my teachers.

Laura James finished her talk with the advice to keep practicing our art and asked to see some of our paintings. She gifted the school a print of her Sermon on the Mount painting. To thank Laura James, Dr. Smith led us in singing and our voices filled the sanctuary.

Clara Buckley

Preschool Art Specialist; Middle School Art

Clara Buckley’s teaching spans the ages of Mustard Seed School, from the youngest students in the preschool to students in the graduating class. She’s found many similarities between teaching three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds!

As an art teacher who never enjoyed drawing, Ms Buckley’s hope is that each child she teaches discovers a way to create art that they enjoy, whether it be sculpture, printing, textiles, architectural drawing, or collage.

Ms. Buckley loves living in Jersey City, a place whose diversity and welcome for immigrants reflects her own family experience. When planning future travel destinations, art, food, and time with family are featured items on her list.

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