Notes from the Director of The Metro Show

Genesis: The Stone Sculptures of James W. Washington, Jr.

Caroline Kerrigan Lerch - Tuesday, November 27, 2012

James W. Washington, Jr. (1909-2000) was born in Gloster, Mississippi.  As a young man he escaped the Jim Crow South via a Civil Service job, moving through Vicksburg, Little Rock and in 1944, settling in Seattle where he quickly became involved in the local art community as a painter and sculptor.


Washington carving Sacrificial Lamb
Photo: Josef Scaylea/The Seattle Times

Washington's stone work is focused on one subject – genesis: the spark of life, fertility, awakening and growth. He sculpted birds hatching from eggs, a sperm chasing an egg, and birth – all expressions of the mystery of life!  His sculptures were imaginatively executed (if not technically accurate). They present a paradox – the beginning of life, a fragile moment, all executed in stone, a medium of force and power.

Washington’s career as a sculptor seems haphazard in retrospect. During a visit to Mexico in 1951 to meet Diego Rivera, he visited the pyramids at Teotihuacan.  While exploring he picked up a volcanic rock and took it home.  The rock sat in his studio for five years until one day, without any prior sculpting instruction, he had a revelation and created his first carving, titled Young Boy in Athens.  Washington realized that sculpting was his calling, and worked as a sculptor for the rest of his life, receiving numerous awards, accolades and commissions. 

Washington’s stone sculptures will be on view in Steven S. Powers (Brooklyn, NY), booth 204 at METRO 2013.  Also coming soon is an essay on Washington.  Check for updates! 


James W. Washington, Jr.
Hawaiian Ai-Laiki = Ricebird
stone, wood
7 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 7
Steven Powers


James W. Washington, Jr.
stone, wood
3 1/4 x 2 1/8 x 3 3/8 
Steven Powers

2 Videos about James W. Washington Jr. are available in Metro Video 

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