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James Ellenberger

Artist, Richmond


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James Matthew Ellenberger is a poet and abstract artist. He was born and raised in a small town in western Pennsylvania, where he spent much of his time wandering around in the woods—until the congenital disorders in his hips and ankles (and the surgeries that followed) made doing so all but impossible. He started to sculpt at 8 in order to pass the time, eventually making claymation videos on his Gameboy Camera (which he won in a Surge twist-off contest). As he got older, he traded in the clay for a blank page, which transmuted, somehow, into a PhD in Creative Writing many years later. Once he started writing poems, his interest in visual art diminished almost entirely. Oh, he started drinking at some point, which turned into 12 years of alcoholism. When he got sober in 2018, he started sculpting again as a way to pass the seemingly endless days in early sobriety. He got upset with the whole situation one night and broke a pen, spilling the ink on the page, which led to his interest in painting. What started as a moment of frustration turned into an obsession, and he’s poured thousands of hours into painting since. While he has extensive academic training when it comes to writing, he’s entirely self-taught as a visual artist, using trial-and-error, not tutorials or classes, to hone his craft. His poetry has been published extensively, in journals such as Copper Nickel, Third Coast, and New South, and his paintings can be found at Art House Kentucky gallery. He teaches at Eastern Kentucky University and lives in Richmond, Kentucky with a badass potter and a very little black cat. He’s @chromataforge on Instagram. Feel free to drop him a line.

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