James Seawright 2 Replies James Seawright, professor of visual arts, emeritus, died Feb. 12, 2022. He was 85.
2022 will be the year of my 5oth college reunion. Having entered in 1968, I believe I must have been one of the early students in Jim’s classes. I know he was there in 1969, because that was the year the “Magic Theater” exhibition was in New York. Jim had his “Electronic Peristyle” in the exhibition and he encouraged me to go. So, one Saturday I and a number of my psychedeiic classmates piled into my VW van and headed up to NYC. We spent the afternoon at the exhibition, had some dinner and then on to Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention at the Fillmore East. All in all, a good high-powered, highly educational weekend of “research in the field.”
Jim was a do-er. He could talk theory, but he could back it up; he could make whatever it was that was needed to elucidate the theory. I recall once I told him I wanted to make a gyroscope to illustrate a concept I had been discussing in a philosophy class. Jim took me over the Engineering School machine shop across campus and introduced me to the shop foreman. The foreman instructed me to take a two-week course on how to work with the milling machines and lathes in that shop and I could then make the gyroscope there.
You see? That was JS. He knew how to make a gyro, but he also knew that me learning how to use these machine tools was going to be severely educational. if I was going to continue down this path of designing and building objects/machines that express abstract concepts, these tools were an important part of the puzzle (For more info on that, go to http://www.janneysound.com.)
I took a sculpture class with Prof Seawright in ’99 or ’00. I remember his warm Southern accent and how free I felt in his class. He had such a gentle and adept way of helping us bring to life what we envisioned. I remember a class project of us creating a clay bust of ourselves, but I wanted to make one of Elvis, and he let me. We used to joke it looked a little like President Clinton! It still sits in my parents’ house. I also recently recalled us going to the Grounds for Sculpture Foundry — my husband recently started a project at the GFS Atelier and I recalled our field trip, which was such a cool experience for me. What a wonderful human. I think of my time in his class every time I walk by 185 Nassau.