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Synthia Saint James

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Information about Synthia Saint James

Profile image of Synthia Saint James

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Visual Artist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Cadmium Yellow
Favorite Food:
Chinese Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Tahiti
Favorite Quote:
See Ya, Wouldn't Want To Be Ya!

Birthplace

Born:
2/11/1949
Birth Location:
Los Angeles, California

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Visual Artist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Cadmium Yellow
Favorite Food:
Chinese Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Tahiti
Favorite Quote:
See Ya, Wouldn't Want To Be Ya!

Birthplace

Born:
2/11/1949
Birth Location:
Los Angeles
See how Synthia Saint James is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Visual artist Synthia Saint James was born in Los Angeles, California to Henrietta Ellastein Talbird and William Jasper James on February 11, 1949. James attended public school in both Los Angeles, California and New York City. During her senior year at Los Angeles High School, she was crowned as the first African American homecoming queen. After graduating high school, James briefly attended Los Angeles Valley College, worked as a writer for Shelter Records and later worked in the media department of Disney Studios.

James' career as an artist began in 1969 when she sold a painting in New York City to one of her co-workers. She continued to work in corporate America in the accounting department, only painting in her spare time. In 1984, she developed her unique style of painting human figures without facial features. She has completed more than forty commissioned works for individuals and organizations such as Mridgitte Matteuzzi’s School of Modern Jazz Ballet, The Los Angeles Women’s Foundation, Essence Magazine and attorney Johnnie Cochran. In addition, her artwork has appeared on the covers of numerous books, including works by Alice Walker, Terry McMillan and Julia Boyd. In 1997, James was chosen by the United States Postal Service to create the first Kwanzaa stamp.

James has written more than a dozen children’s books, she is the author of two books of poetry and prose, entitled Girlfriends and Can I Touch You: Love Poems and Affirmations and wrote a multi-cultural cookbook Creative Fixings From the Kitchen. James’ pieces have been featured in galleries around the globe, including exhibitions at the Musée Des Duncans, The Chicago Art Institute and Cosmopolitan Artists. She has received numerous awards, including a 1997 Coretta Scott King Honor and a Parent’s Choice Silver Honor for her children’s book Sunday.

Synthia Saint James was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 16, 2004.

See how Synthia Saint James is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Synthia Saint James's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James talks about her maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James describes her mother's life in New York, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James describes her father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James recalls her early career aspirations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James describes her father's profession
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James describes her experiences growing up in Los Angeles, California and New York, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Synthia Saint James describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Synthia Saint James remembers being held back in kindergarten in the Bronx, New York, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Synthia Saint James remembers moving to Los Angeles, California during first grade
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Synthia Saint James talks about her interest in horses as a girl
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James remembers her mother's conversion to Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James talks about her parents' divorce and her stepmother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James remembers her art instruction in school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James describes teachers who influenced her
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James recalls being crowned the first African American homecoming queen at Los Angeles High School in 1966
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James remembers working at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James talks about her theater training
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Synthia Saint James remembers living in New York, New York as a young adult
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Synthia Saint James recalls her roles in various blackploitation movies
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Synthia Saint James talks about working at Shelter Records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Synthia Saint James explains how her art career began
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James describes the development of her artistic style
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James talks about her associations with other African American artists
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James remembers her big break
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James describes her artistic style
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James outlines her career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James describes her books
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James explains how long it takes to make her paintings
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Synthia Saint James remembers being asked to design a Kwanzaa stamp for the United States postal service in 1997
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James recalls the reception of her Kwanzaa stamp design
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James describes her recent mosaic and stained glass pieces
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James explains the frustrations of creating public art
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James explains her philosophy of art
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James talks about her lack of formal training
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James shares lessons she learned trying to exhibit her work at galleries as a self-taught artist
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James talks about the false distinction between commercial art and fine art
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Synthia Saint James gives advice to aspiring artists
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Synthia Saint James describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Synthia Saint James talks about the uplifting spirit of her art
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Synthia Saint James talks about comparisons between Haitian art and her own work
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James talks about her family's reactions to her success and their interest in art
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James talks about her plans for the future
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James recalls her decision not to marry or have children
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James talks about her daily walks on the beach
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Synthia Saint James narrates her photographs