Jim Leedy is an international artist in terms of his interests and achievements. He is an artist who crosses boundaries between materials and genres, representation and abstraction, art and music, creativity, and scholarship. His diverse and unique talents have led him to a lifetime of accomplishment in clay, painting, public art, works-on-paper, prints, assemblages, installations, and performance.
Eyewitness to the birth of the New York School, Leedy's paintings emerge from Abstract Impressionism, with a sense of materiality, surface, structure, and veiled figuration. With a graduate study of Asian art history at Columbia University, he created a hybrid of Abstract Expressionism and Oriental pottery which is central to his oeuvre in clay. Chinese tripod bronzes and Japanese folk pottery were reinterpreted with an informal American twist that established him as an early leader in the American Clay Revolution.
Never satisfied with the status quo, his career has been a lifetime of exploration and chance-taking that has occasionally put him on the outside of major art movements, while often anticipating them. He continues to break ground in processes, materials, and subject matter that is unique to his times and personal life.
"I try to forget everything I have learned, and attempt to flow with nature."
Adapted from Jim Leedy: Artist Across Boundaries, by Matthew Kangas, University of Washington Press, 2000.
Jim Leedy was an artist who crossed boundaries between materials and genres, representation and abstraction, art and music, creativity and scholarship. He began making art as a very young child. While still in high school, Leedy began working with the Bluefield (WV) Telegraph newspaper as an artist and photographer. After two years as a military photographer, he entered the Richmond Professional Institute of the College of William and Mary in Richmond, VA as an art major of the G.I. Bill.
Leedy was an international artist in both interest and achievement. His diverse and unique talents have led him to a lifetime of accomplishment in clay, painting, public art, works-on-paper, prints, assemblages, installations, and performance. Jim has shown his work, lectures, and does workshops at home and abroad and his works are held in numerous museums and private collections around the world. Noted art critic Matthew Kangas recently wrote a book on Leedy’s career entitled Jim Leedy: Artist Across Boundaries.
A longtime professor of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute, Leedy was a devoted teacher. He has degrees from The College of William and Mary, Michigan State University, and Southern Illinois University, with post-graduate work at Columbia and Ohio State Universities. Among his many honors, Jim has received grants from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the Carnegie-Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has also received the Kansas City Art Institue’s Distinguished Achievement Award and the Governor’s award for teaching excellence, as well as being named an Honorary Member of the Council of the National Council of Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA).
Jim Leedy has worked tirelessly for decades as a passionate champion of the arts in Kansas City. The Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, founded in 1985 and still directed by Jim, is currently home to 6 different galleries. In 2000, the Kansas City Star recognized Jim as one of the 150 most influential living Kansas Citians for his role as the founder of Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District and the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center. In 2001, the Governor and the Historic Kansas City Foundation both recognized his efforts with awards for historical preservation and for his role in founding the Crossroads Arts District.
Never satisfied with the status quo, Jim’s career has been a lifetime of exploration and chance-taking that has occasionally put him on the outside of major art movements, while often anticipating them. He continues to break ground in processes, materials, subject matter and community development in a way that is unique to his times and personal life.
Partially adapted from Jim Leedy: Artist Across Boundaries, by Matthew Kangas, University of Washington Press, 2000.
11.6.1930 - 12.26.2021
We are deeply saddened to share the news of our beloved Jim Leedy’s passing, early Sunday morning, December 26, 2021. We are comforted in knowing that Jim will continue to live on through his extravagant stories, genuine friendships, and influential artwork he has created around the world. Thank you to all who have shared, and continue to share, your memories of Jim. It keeps our hearts full during this difficult time.
- The Leedy Family
SHOP & SUPPORT
Since 1985, the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center has existed as a creative and visual venue for regional, national and international artists. We plan to continue this role within the Kansas City art community as we move forward, but have added preservation services of artists and their work to our mission.
We have formed The Leedy Foundation, a non-profit 501c3. It is the wish of Jim Leedy to continue this tradition of creative innovation and artistic opportunity while servicing the need to preserve and promote artistic legacy and heritage.
Your donation can help us achieve this goal!