Richard W. James to receive the James Renwick Alliance 2019 Chrysalis Award

By Editorial Team on November 11, 2019

The James Renwick Alliance announces Texas-based artist Richard W. James as the 2019 winner of its Chrysalis Award for his work in mixed media. The prize constitutes an unrestricted $5,000 award.

The Chrysalis Award was established in 2016 to encourage and support an emerging American craft artist who demonstrates excellence and a commitment to artistic innovation but who does not have major gallery representation.

Richard W. James creates large-scale surreal figures out of meticulously crafted earthenware and found objects. Influenced by his upbringing in rural Tennessee and the craft skills handed down from his parents and grandparents, James’ often unsettling contemporary ceramic sculptures incorporate the materials and processes he “associates with the informative years of my life to question the cultural lenses in which I grew up.”

“The jurors were impressed with James’ superb craftsmanship but ultimately it was his unique vision and voice that captured our attention. We were delighted to have strong interest in the Chrysalis award from all over the United States this year, with a record number of applications, demonstrating vibrancy in the craft field” said JRA President Michele Manatt.

The award will be presented during the JRA Distinguished Artist Series event to be held on November 17, 2019 at the Katzen Art Center at the American University Art Museum in Washington, DC. James will be presented with the Chrysalis award and give a presentation. The event is open to the public.

Richard W. James is an Assistant Professor of of Sculpture and Ceramics at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. From 2017 to 2019 he was an artist-in-residence at Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana.  He received an MFA in ceramics from the University of Kansas in 2016 and was a 2016-17 artist-in-residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In 2015 he was a summer artist-in-residence at Zhenrutang A.I.R, Jingdezhen, China. He received his BFA from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2001.  To see more of his work visit

The JRA celebrates and advances American Craft and craft artists by fostering education, connoisseurship, and public appreciation through programs, educational trips, publications, and recognition of excellence in the field.  In addition, we provide support to craft artists and museums, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

For a comment about the Chrysalis Award and this year’s recipient, or further information about the JRA, contact Jaimianne Jacobin, JRA Director, at or at 301.907.3888.

(via James Renwick Alliance.

Photo courtesy the artist: Folleree and Folleroo by Richard W. James, Earthenware, found objects, found quilt, string, wood, underglaze, 70” x 38” x10″)