While February is the designated month for Black History Month, black history transcends a mere twenty-eight days out of the year. Black history is American history and artist Jim Hill explores the nuances and hard realities that make this topic so sensitive even in 2023.
Artist Jim Hill has long been a renaissance man ever since a young age. Growing up he continued to pour into his passions for art and philanthropy. Now having lived a full and eclectic life, he has found a way to integrate both into his works of art. Taking from his humble beginnings, he weaves a story that longs to be told. Secret Atlanta had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Hill about his latest exhibition, Born To Be.
Jim Hill’s warm voice filters through the speakers and we immediately dive into his history and how that has brought him to this place in life at 75!
SMA: What do you hope to achieve with these works of art that you’re creating?
Jim Hill: I would like to send a message to the youth so they can understand what we’ve been through as a people. It’s a historical blues, so they can see how they can grow.
SMA: What has inspired you to create these pieces over the years, and specifically what inspired you for this particular exhibition?
Jim Hill: When my family and I had our exodus from the south and it spurred me on. In terms of creating, I come from a family of artists. My uncle drew the logo for the Mayflower Truck moving truck and he was the one who said “draw what you see”. I felt as though it was time to deal with my life and what I’d seen growing up.
SMA: Your medium is unique in that you don’t use acrylic on paint or any other familiar mediums on the canvas, what was your reason for choosing the medium you do?
Jim Hill: I went to Brooklyn Heights because they started recycling and they had fabulous magazines such as Vogue and other high-end publications. I saw all those papers and thought I can get colors out of those magazines and paint. The Harlem State Building said I created a painting with paper. The bonus was that it was cheaper. All I needed was Elmer’s glue and some scissors. I cut out the paper into a diamond shape because a diamond can be morphed into anything.
SMA: What inspired the name of this particular exhibit?
Jim Hill: My life. The life I’ve lived. That’s basically what inspired the name of this exhibition. I’m 75 and I came to this spot in my life and I said it’s time to share it.
SMA: You were honored by the U.N. for your apartheid piece how has that continued to influence your pieces?
Jim Hill: Well it’s been all about making a difference. A struggle. It influenced me to do major work on the homeless. It was all about the kids in Ghana. I went to Ghana and started painting them I saw the poverty that was in Africa.
SMA: Do you have any spiritual backgrounds that have inspired and influenced your desire to help those less fortunate than you?
Jim Hill: My mom was an African Christian. They believed Jesus would set them free and they wanted to get on the ship and go back to Africa. My mother constantly drummed the beauty of God into me. My mother read the bible from cover to cover and encouraged me to do the same.
SMA: What artists have influenced your artistic journey along the way?
Jim Hill: My uncles. When my exhibition was at the Harlem State Building an art collector looked at my art and said “He’s an extension of Bearden” The art curator replied, “No, Bearden is an extension of Picasso. Jim has copied nobody. If you want to find his art you would have to go to the tombs of Egypt, because they started mosaics and that’s what Jim creates”.
SMA: Having previously been homeless and underprivileged, in what ways do you think lower-poverty cities and schools can help others who show passion and interest in the arts, and how that can shape their future?
Jim Hill: I feel that if we went out and showed the homeless children how to create and show the children how to paint with paper. it costs nothing. they can try to raise money on their own and create their niche. The schools should be more open to homeless children and understand their pain. Be more supportive at every level.
SMA: What can we expect to see from Jim Hill going forward?
Jim Hill: Hopefully, you will be able to see me working in the shelters and helping children create their talents. That’s my goal and while I’m doing that, I will still be creating art.
📍 Mason Fine Art Center: 64 Miami Cir NE #150, Atlanta, GA 30324 Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Friday: 11 am – 5 pm
Saturday: 12 pm – 5 pm