Born and raised in the rural environment of western New Jersey, James Mullen received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Sculpture and Printmaking from the University of New Hampshire in 1985. In 1986 he participated in the LaNapoule Summer Art Program, then completed his Master of Fine Arts in Painting at Indiana University in 1991. He has taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, the University of Evansville in Indiana, and since 1999 has taught at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME, where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art. Mullen has received numerous awards and scholarships including an Individual Artist Grant from the state of Georgia as well as Research Grants from both the University of Evansville and Bowdoin College.
He has had over twenty solo exhibitions at venues including the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in Augusta, GA, The Chattahoochie Valley Art Museum in LaGrange, GA, Artemisia Gallery in Chicago, IL , The Maine Center for Contemporary Art in Rockport, ME, and at Providence College in Rhode Island. He has also had several solo exhibitions at the Ruschman Art Gallery in Indianapolis, IN, and at Sherry French Gallery in New York City. He has also been awarded residencies at the Spring Island Artist in Residence program in South Carolina, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL. In 2010 he was selected for an Artist Residency at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, and in 2015 was awarded a residency at Hewnoaks Artist Colony. In 2015 he was awarded a Puffin Foundation Grant for the Pilgrimage Project. Recent solo exhibitions have included Phoenix Gallery in New York City, New England College in Henniker, NH, University of Southern New Hampshire, and the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, ME.
“My work is centered on painting the landscape, often based on photographs I have made on site. This is a continuation of a body of work that I have been building over the last two decades dealing with the depictions of the environment.
Recently I have refined the focus of that investigation to examine iconic sites belonging to the lexicon of the 19th-century American landscape. These sites include locations like Kaaterskill Falls, Mount Desert Island, and the White Mountains. During this investigation, I have expanded my focus to also include other destination landscapes, most notably works of the late 20th century Land Art movement. All of these sites have been understood primarily through reliance upon mechanical reproduction, whether through the dissemination of engravings in portfolios and publications in the 19th century or in the 20th century through photography. This new body of work seeks to visit a number of these sites, and treat them as primary documents to research and develop. I see many of these sites as iconic condensers of memory, and I am interested in redefining them through works created from primary observation at those locations. This project pushes back against the proliferation of digital images that bombard us every day, converting “place” into a veneer.
I spend extended time at these sites in an effort to engage them in a more mindful manner. In doing this, I hope to create work that can help remind the viewer of the value of a more thoughtful engagement with the environment, and the importance of that connection.”