James Thurman

As a cancer survivor living in remission, James sees every day as a gift and strives to make the most of every experience, consequently, memento mori has become a recurring theme in his creative work. He is an Associate Professor at the University of North Texas’ College of Visual Arts & Design, where is a faculty member in the Metalsmithing and Jewelry Program. He received his MFA in Metalsmithing from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. In 2012 and 2016, he was a Fulbright Specialist Scholar in Istanbul, Turkey. A highly active studio artist for over twenty-five years, he is well-known for Thurmanite, a recycled paper and bio-resin composite material that he developed and trademarked. His recent work is focused on combining Thurmanite with metal spinning, pewter, and miniature painting techniques.


Memento Mori Bolo

Date of Creation: April 20, 2023

List of Materials: Thurmanite® (layered recycled paper bonded with plant-based resin), sterling silver, leather, painted pewter (Reaper mini 2043 sculpted by Bob Ridolfi)

Dimensions: 2.5" x 1.5" x .75" (+end caps), 35" long

Photographer's Name: James Thurman

Conceptual Statement: As a memento mori, this piece serves as a reminder of our mortality and an inspiration to appreciate all that we have in our lives. The Thurmanite lathe-turned cabochon is made of maps, a symbol of our collected travels and experiences throughout our life. The black and white Thurmanite shifts the focus to morality, where all choices are not necessarily “black or white”. The Lorem ipsum text is a common placeholder in layouts and serves to reference all texts that might guide, inspire, or inform us throughout our lifetime. The bolo tie is a common form of adornment in American Western wear along with use of skeletal imagery. Utilizing the format of the bolo in combination with skeletal forms plays off Western wear while referencing with the historic tradition of memento mori jewelry. The inclusion of Thurmanite along with the painted miniature invites closer inspection and reflection on the concepts embedded in the piece.

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