James Rose

I have made work to identify people in power responsible for social injustice. Their social, environmental and financial crimes are excused by our system of free market capitalism. Since the 1980s, free market has been purposely and wrongfully conflated with freedom. I made a body of work which includes politicians, fossil fuel executives and Wall Street bankers. I started to think about what I can directly do something about. I live in Bay Ridge, with views of the Verrazano Narrows and NYC Harbor. Neighborhoods like mine are the last stop for plastic waste before it ends up in the ocean. I started to make paintings about the pollution that I can go out and clean up. I want others to see what I see and feel what I feel. A plastic bag floating down the road or a straw sitting in the drainage grate is on its way to the ocean unless I stop it. When I walk by it and don’t do anything, I feel complicit. For most of my career my paintings have been urban. I see something that makes me feel a certain way and I try and convey that with paint or charcoal. I have always been fascinated by public transportation and the systems that move people around a city. I still make paintings of people in cities, but in 2019, I began painting trees in forests. Like the city, the forests make me feel a certain way. This feeling is always good. The fresh air, rocky trails and lush green reduces my stress and increases my mood. The forests are what will save the people I paint from all the other injustices I make work about.

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