Dr. James Ellis

Research Assistant Professor
Art History, Art Theory

James Ellis is an art historian from the United States.  He received his Ph.D. in Art History from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio, and his M.A. from Rice University, in Houston, Texas.  His research interests include American realism, particularly social realist paintings and prints from the 1930s and 1940s, and European Modernism.

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He also attended law school in New York City and was a practicing attorney for several years prior to moving to Hong Kong in 2011. Dr. Ellis understands art objects as cultural artifacts embodying specific values and beliefs.  He is currently developing publication projects exploring ways colonial-era artists represented Hong Kong to Western audiences in ‘fine art’, illustrations and commercial work.  In addition, he is a practicing studio artist, specialising in watercolour and oil media.

 

James Ellis’ research interests include the production of social realist and urban realist painters and printmakers working during the first half of the twentieth century.  His doctoral dissertation examined Reginald Marsh and other members of New York’s so-called “Fourteenth Street School” and his master’s thesis presented a largely unexplored set of works by the noted social realist painter and documentary photographer Ben Shahn.

His primary methodologies have included social contextualising and psycho-biographical analysis.  In addition, recently he began exploring the ways Western commercial artists and illustrators have represented the local environment and population during Hong Kong’s colonial period.  He is considering the surprisingly loaded racial, class, gender and economic messages at the core of seemingly straightforward imagery.

 

2018
(Pending publication – completed and submitted)
“’Pictures of Persuasion’: Hong Kong’s Colonial Travel Posters”
Hong Kong Baptist University Faculty Research Grant funded project

(Pending publication – completed and submitted)
“Contextualization and Syncretism in Hong Kong:
St. John’s Cathedral and St. Mary’s Parish Church Case Studies”

(Pending publication – completed and submitted)
“Eastern Daughters in Western Missions: Female Education in the Protestant Mission Movement”

“Hong Kong’s Elusive Identity: Searching in the Past, Present, and Future”
Asian Culture and History 

Timeless Truths in Aesop’s Fables: Part 3
Amazon Createspace (my illustrations)

Spring, Honshū, Japan
Amazon Createspace (2019 wall calendar, with original photographs)

Timeless Truths in Aesop’s Fables: Part 2
Amazon Createspace (my illustrations)

2017
“‘You Can Live Like a King …’”: A Postcolonial Tour of Colonial Hong Kong”
Journal of Asian and African Studies             

Texas Hill Country Haikus
Amazon Createspace (monthly planner with my illustrations)

“Using Artwork as Problem Context in Generic Critical Thinking Instruction:
A Strategy for Thoughts” (third author)
Thinking Skills and Creativity           

“Fay Chong and Andrew Chinn: Asian Masters of American Art”
American Studies Journal    

Timeless Truths in Aesop’s Fables
Kindle eBook (illustrated)

“Late-August Mass Transit Railway (MTR)”
Streetlight Magazine (illustrated)

2016

“’Portraits and Desire’: Chinese Ink Artist Qin Feng – In Conversation”
Art Radar: Contemporary Art Trends and News from Asia and Beyond

“‘The World is Our Home.  A Poem on Abstraction’: Para Site’s Cosmin and Inti Guerrero Interview”
Art Radar: Contemporary Art Trends and News from Asia and Beyond

2015

“‘On the merry-go-round of life at last I’ve grabbed the brass ring.’
Walter Broe’s Improbable Journey from Bowery Bum to Darling of New York’s Art World”
New York History Review

“The Antique and the Contemporary: ‘The Shape of Time’ at Gagosian Hong Kong”
Art Radar: Contemporary Art Trends and News from Asia and Beyond         

“Looking through Reginald Marsh’s New York Spectacles: A City in the State of Déshabillé”
Americana – E-Journal of American Studies in Hungary        

“Leonardo Drew’s First Solo Exhibition in Asia at Pearl Lam Galleries”
Art Radar: Contemporary Art Trends and News from Asia and Beyond

Conference presentations

2018
Upcoming: “Hong Kong’s Elusive Self-Identity:
Expressions in Public Education, the Film Industry and Heritage Preservation”
The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film 2018, Tokyo, Japan

“‘You Can Live Like a King …’”: A Postcolonial Tour of Colonial Hong Kong”
2018 Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities, Kobe, Japan

“Chinese Bible Women: Cross-cultural Female Evangelists in the Chinese Mission Endeavour”
2018 Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy, Kobe, Japan

“Anglican Indigenisation and Contextualisation in Colonial Hong Kong”
2018 Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy, Kobe, Japan

“‘You Can Live Like a King …’”: A Postcolonial Tour of Colonial Hong Kong”
2018 Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities, Kobe, Japan

2017
“Andrew Chinn and Fay Chong: Asian Masters of American Art”
2017 European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology, University of Zurich, Switzerland

“Andrew Chinn and Fay Chong: Asian Masters of American Art”
2017Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities, Kobe, Japan

Dr. Ellis wants to help open windows onto ideas and passions for visual arts students.  He hopes that the immersion in art theory and history will enhance the students’ studio endeavors, and that they will learn to develop their own creative expressions while discovering the inventive languages of others.  A serious art student must strive to realise that art objects represent the philosophies and ideals of the culture(s) in which they are produced.  In the midst of an explosion of styles and unexplored media, and seismic shifts in the social order, the current group of AVA students have a golden opportunity to define what art means in the twenty-first century.  Dr. Ellis’ role is to broaden horizons and inspire creativity.