Born and raised in Lawndside, New Jersey Vernon Akili James graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2007 with a BA in Art and Digital Media. For a brief time there he studied with Coney Island Side-Show banner artist Marie Roberts. After graduating he became a Freelance Graphic Designer working with local businesses and nonprofits. In 2011 James sought a way to express his artistic ideas on a more personal level and begun to paint. Since then his work has been featured in Philadelphia and Delaware art galleries. The core of Vernon’s work revolves around portraiture and his medium of choice is oil on Canvas.
Native American Portraits
Out of college with a degree in graphic design I wanted to paint. I wanted to paint portraits because for a large part of my life that’s what I have primarily drawn and created. At the same time I was afraid to portray African or African-American culture with in my art. Realizing that I tried to find something that would help me portray my thoughts while avoiding African diaspora concepts. With some time and some luck I came across the works of Edward S. Curtis (Curtis a Photographer from the early 1900th’s who photographed Native Americans through out most of the North American continent) and fell in love with the strength and power I saw in the faces of the people Curtis decided to photograph….
I’ve been drawing since I can remember. It’s the one thing I try to do everyday.