James’ personal iconography is rich with references to the cultural, social, political and religious experiences of growing up in Mississippi. His outlook is humorous, poignant, and sometimes confrontational, as he observes the world around him. The work draws upon both the beauty and the ugliness of this region. His works explore the concepts of what society ordains as acceptable or beautiful, as well as, what it condemns as being ugly and undesirable. Having grown up in the south, he discovered that many situations, events and people are a mixture of both definitions. For him, the intrigue lies not only within the borders of these interpretations but also in how these labels can influence a lifelong attitude.
While James is influenced by all that he sees and hears, his historical art influences range widely from the figurative art works of the Renaissance, to the personally powerful folk art of the south.
James’ pieces are constructed using various methods with a heavy grog white clay body. Once the form is established, the surface is then finished with several layers of underglazes, stains, and glazes. With each added layer , the work is subjected to another firing. The initial firing is to cone 1 followed by lower temperature firings to cone 04. This process of layering colorants is used to add depth to the surface and a look of distress to the piece.