Jim Leedy, sculptor, ceramist and photographer, is an important abstract expressionist artist, and founder of modern ceramic art in America in the 20th Century. Leedy recognized long ago the value of creating opportunities and platforms for younger artists to express themselves. With Peter Voulkos, they founded Leedy-Voulkos Art Center from run-down buildings and renovating and converting them into art galleries. Numerous artists attribute their inspiration to Leedy through his efforts, teaching, and artistic expression.
Leedy’s works seek to render utilitarian objects to go beyond their purely utilitarian aspects, whilst maintaining the emphasis on the material itself. He utilizes clay and paint in a fashion that appears as they are, purely clay and paint, ultimately displaying an appreciation of the materials being used. In essence, it is letting the material of his work be true to itself. Many of his works become loved collections of museums and art galleries.
From high school, Jim fell in love with ancient Chinese culture and the arts. He took college courses on Chinese art history and ancient Chinese philosophy. Following the philosophies of Taoism and the teachings of Lao Tzu, Leedy’s work invokes the idea that objects should manifest themselves as nature intended. This strong appreciation of nature is reflected in many of his works. Jim taught at the Kansas School of the Arts for 43 years, teaching Chinese art history, ceramics and sculpture. He is also a public speaker, invited to speak at many functions around the world, imparting knowledge of China culture and art to westerners and actively engaged in cultural exchanges.
Jim was invited to speak and teach in Taiwan in 2001. Later, he entered China via Hong Kong and toured many cities of historical importance, destinations he had longed to visit for his life. In 2005 he came to China again on behalf of UNESCO, engaging in creative exchanges with Chinese artists. He said China was the first to influence his artwork. He often comes to China to fulfill his dreams because his art is rooted in China. Jim Leedy came to China on many occasions. He has made enormous contribution to the bilateral art and cultural exchanges and development.
Jim Leedy, holding the US China Outstanding Contribution Award, presented by Brian Su, President of the Artisan Business Group, at the Third Award Ceremony at the Root of Shanghai, Snowflakes Lake Resort, Feb. 7th, 2015 in Shanghai.