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Laughter Finds Us Together

40" x 40" oil on panel

Love Has Many Joys

16" x 12" oil on canvas

Believing in Quietude

16" x 14" oil on panel


Because I work in the context of Contemporary Realism, there is an immediate juxtaposition between the still life paintings I produce and the ideas that come to mind when hearing the description, “Native American Artist.”  Both my life and my art find themselves at the intersection of the question of identity - what it means to be an indigenous person and what kind of art is often expected from an indigenous artist.

On the surface, my work carries on some of the traditions from Dutch realism, but beyond that, my work explores the temporality of nature and the power of decontextualizing common place objects and elevating them to the position of fine art. When we change the context of something, are we able to see it with fresh eyes? Do we see something unexpected and new?

Like my paintings, I live in the intersection of two worlds.  My Cherokee father and my white mother gifted me with a lived experience that is complex and continually raises questions of who I am.

My artistic vision explores the tensions of what we see and what is hidden beneath the surface; what we expect as well as what we struggle to acknowledge; and what is possible to see anew when we step beyond the narrow frameworks of art and lived experiences.



James Andrew Smith began painting when he was 10 years old, studying with a respected Tulsa artist. The only child in an adult art class, the instructor stood James on a box to reach the easel. His early instinct for color, light and form were clearly evident and they continue to be hallmarks of his work as a contemporary realist.

James attended Booker T. Washington High School where he continued art exploration. His teacher was instrumental in providing him with the encouragement to pursue his creativity. During high school, James worked for Renberg’s, a once local Tulsa department store, creating hand-drawn fashion illustrations for their weekly newspaper advertisements. After high school, James completed a degree in Graphic Design. After 10 years as a successful designer, James returned to his childhood love of oil painting and formally began his art career in 2001.