Artist Synthia Saint James was a recent guest at California State University, San Bernardino, speaking to a largely student/faculty audience about getting their work in the public domain. She is known for the vibrant colors used and the featureless faces depicted. She uses geometric shapes to create a strong communal sense, making features unnecessary. Her work can be found in many media forms, including book covers (“Waiting To Exhale”); children’s book illustrations; a mural in the Ontario airport; a totem pole in the courtyard of a home for displaced women in downtown Los Angeles; coffee mugs; hats and tote bags for a major book store. Saint James created the first Kwanzaa stamp for the U.S. Postal Service in 1997.
Saint James shared wits and wisdom from her latest book, “Living My Dream: An Artistic Approach to Marketing,” an autobiographical work that was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2011. The information she shared can cross art forms and help other creative individuals avoid the pitfalls of marketing. She is a self-taught artist who was not a child prodigy, but one who definitely found her voice in the art work she creates. Saint James worked in the accounting department of a major clothing store in the late sixties in New York; she later worked at a mortgage company in the Big Apple. She would work, save her money and then spend time painting. She has left no stone unturned in the pursuit of living her dream. She wrote press releases for a radio station, did a national ad for a major fast food chain, and stated what she would like the younger generation to take away from her work is the perseverance to also follow their dreams to fruition.
She is a close friend with the Inland Empire’s own Charles Bibb, with whom she has shared collaboration on a work of art; their styles are complementary. Questions abounded after Saint James’ presentation. Dr. Kathy Earvin, faculty member at Cal State, asked her how she was able to wrap her mind around the large pieces, specifically the mural and the totem pole.
Saint James was born in Los Angeles, but the family moved to New York when she was still quite young. She lived between the two coasts before settling in Los Angeles. A popular keynote speaker, she has been invited to quite a few Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Her work portfolio includes poetry books, a cook book, a book of affirmations, and almost twenty children’s books.
Saint James signed copies of her book “Living My Dream” after which a wine reception was hosted by the Visual Arts Department of Cal State. She also had an exhibition at the Robert and Frances J. Fulton Art Museum on campus.
Written by: Precinct Reporter Group
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