James Vanderberg

Hunter College Times Square Gallery, 2008

Hunter College Times Square Gallery, 2008

I was born and raised on Long Island, New York.  My work continues to harken back to the waterways and beaches of this landscape.  Although rooted in abstraction and color interactions, all my work makes a connection between the figure and field, landscape and our place in that space.

I received my M.F.A. from CUNY Hunter College in 2008, creating large-scale abstract works for my thesis exhibition, for which I earned the Hunter College Tony Smith Award for exceptional graduate work.  While at Hunter I was also awarded the Luetz/Riedel Fellowship for exchange travel to L'ecole Des Beaux Arts in Paris, France.  It was here that I immersed myself in the landscapes of Monet, Cézanne, the Impressionists and the landscape and light of Provence and Brittany.

Upon my return I began work on a new series of watercolors and drawings that focused on the bays, beaches and waterways of my Long Island home.  With my older brother, a poet, we begin to mine our collective history to rediscover our native shores and stories.  

Our book, Weather-Eye, can be seen here.

For the past eight years I have taught studio art and art history from the university level to local community workshops.  Currently I am the Head of the Fine Arts Department at Saint John's Preparatory High School in Astoria, NY.  I have also taught as an adjunct professor at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY, Nassau Community College, Brooklyn Art Space and P.I. INternational Art Camp in Soeul South Korea.


Artist Statement  

My current body of work has evolved from an exploration of color and landscape to a more narrative structure maintaining a line between abstraction and reality.  Working through drawing, I am building a sequential, abstract language that includes references to the figure, comic art, landscape and personal histories.  These images may not obviously connect or create a “readable” narrative.  However, I want these paintings and drawings to tell stories, whether they are humorous, grotesque or beautiful.  They relate to how I perceive and understand the world.

I work from nature and observation to collect moments and places in sketches and drawings that are then translated through color and gesture to create investigative spaces for a viewer to get lost in. My process is a narrative of mark making, scraping, over painting and the palimpsest surface of the panel or canvas. Currently, an exploration into sequential comic art, regional entertainment and advertising as well as the local history and flavor of Coney Island have informed the work.  I am equally influenced by the landscape of the East Coast and New York's local waterways, where I currently reside, as well as the Great South Bay of Long Island, where I grew up.