Discipline: Interdisciplinary Art – multimedia installation

James Pelletier

Discipline: Interdisciplinary Art – multimedia installation
Region: Winchendon, MA
MacDowell Fellowships: 1989, 1990
More: Night/Light

James Pelletier is an artist and poet with a B.A. in psychobiology. He attended The Art Students League of New York where he studied with Robert Beverly Hale, Vaclav Vytlacil, and Jose DeCreeft. He worked for the SoHo Weekly News and Interview magazine.

His poetry has appeared in alternative press publications and in numerous newspapers. His artwork has been exhibited in New York galleries. In 1976 he created a light installation at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. That same year he created the first edition of NIGHT/LIGHT a lightwork that transformed the Lower Manhattan skyline by utilizing the lighting systems inside skyscrapers. The monumental work took place on the evening of New York City's Bicentennial Fourth of July celebration. It earned Pelletier a commendation from President Gerald Ford.

Considered a pioneer in the field of public art, Pelletier created a citywide sculpture exhibition entitled "Balloon Snow" in Keene, NH in 1977. The following year he exhibited the sculptures in Battery Park in New York. Xerox Corporation funded the exhibit. In 1982, a "Balloon Snow" sculpture was installed at Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey, NH funded by Markem Corporation.

The second edition of NIGHT/LIGHT was created in 1979 in conjunction with the Thomas Edison Centennial of Light celebration. The lightwork received national and international attention. In an interview with Grace Glueck of The New York Times the artist said it “is as much about peace and meditation as it is about spectacle." NIGHT/LIGHT is considered a major contribution to the evolution of sculpture. That year Pelletier also created Moondance, a multi-media light performance. It was performed at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio, the Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium, and at Bruce Park in Greenwich, CT. He received Lumen Awards for his contribution to the art and science of lighting for NIGHT/LIGHT and Moondance. Other lightwork installations include Winter Light at the World Trade Center and Room Installation at the The Putney Arts Center. In 1981 Pelletier launched his poetry publication, Matchbook Poems. In 2003, his poem "Monadnock" was one of ten poems chosen to celebrate Mt. Monadnock. Other poems selected were written by Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Greenleaf Whittier. Located in New Hampshire, Monadnock is the most climbed mountain in the United States.

In 1989 and 1990, he was in residence at MacDowell, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. While at MacDowell he created the Notan Series of light pieces and invented a literary style of poetry inspired by haiku and the short stories of Félix Fénéon, which were published in a chapbook. He is currently writing a second volume of Five Short Stories.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks, Pelletier volunteered at Ground Zero for several months in the “Return to Normalcy” effort. He worked with Wall Street businesses and organizations to involve the community in an Art project and a poetry reading. After returning home he wrote "Downtown Lower Manhattan." President Carter, The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and others have praised the work. It is the only poem in the history of Massachusetts to be recognized by the House of Representatives and the Senate. Ken Burns, Pete Seeger, and Kitty Carlisle Hart are among those who have recorded Pelletier’s homage to historic New York. He has organized annual readings of the names of the September 11th victims since 2002.



James Pelletier worked in the Alexander studio.

Originally designed to be a visual art gallery, this facility was built in memory of the late John White Alexander (1856-1915) and funded by Elizabeth Alexander and their son James. John White Alexander was highly regarded as a portrait painter and, in the early part of the 20th century, served…

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