Award-winning James Rees shares how he creates amazing art


Utah Valley University’s Museum of Art recently opened a new exhibit called “Born Into This,” featuring the work of brothers James and John Rees.

Growing up in Provo, Utah, the brothers each became artists in their own way.

James Rees is an award-winning artist, researcher and teacher. His journey as an artist began at BYU, where he earned a year-long scholarship for his art.

“It got me into school free for a year, got my foot in the door and I found my people,” he said.

James Rees’s creative process is deeply personal and reflective. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he says his religion and spirituality influence his art.

“The imagery that I use is all about how we move forward with the challenges we face and how we make sense of the experiences we face,” James Rees said. “Whether it’s in testimony meeting or through a work of art, the spirit can transcend the clumsiness and mediate that and help people to connect.”

Monotype printing is one of James Rees’s primary mediums, which involves painting or printing ink on plastic before transferring the image to paper through manual rubbing or by using a press.

He says his approach to creating art is all about spontaneous experimentation and discovery.

“Usually I doodle in my sketchbook and don’t have any prearranged idea or constraint,” he said. “You just explore and there’s no good, bad or ugly. It’s afterward when I’m going to select from that and curate an idea for a work of art.”

Through this creative process, Rees hopes to share and connect with his viewers.

“It really is about me connecting to my own experiences, spiritual and otherwise, and then convey(ing) those experiences through my art so it connects to others,” he said. “That’s why I really love when we have openings. I get to meet people and talk to people and it’s another form of connecting.”

The “Born Into This” exhibit at the UVU Museum of Art is open from May 14 and will be on display until Sept. 21.

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