Profile: James Dupree (1950-)

James Dupree is an American artist, educator, and activist. He has received both fellowships and artist’s residencies in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and Wales, as well as various awards, including the Living Legend Award of the Black Alumni Society of the University of Pennsylvania. From 2012 to 2014, Dupree Studios in the Mantua community of West Philadelphia was the subject of an eminent domain takeover attempt by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), which ended with Dupree keeping his studio.


James Dupree was born in 1950 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spent parts of his childhood in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. As a child, he attended free classes at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. Dupree received a full scholarship to Columbus College of Art and Design, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1972. He then attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania, becoming one of the first African Americans to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Fine Arts program, in 1977.


Dupree has displayed his works in both group and solo shows, most recently Works From The Stolen Dreams And Forbidden Fruit Series at the Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia (March 2015); and Stolen Dreams in the Promise Zone at Stockton University (July–August 2015). He is known for his exploration of mixed media including glass, wood, and other materials, and his vibrant use of color.

Blurring the boundaries between painting, collage, printmaking and draftsmanship, Dupree delves wholeheartedly into the realm of complete abstraction.

He has been active in the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and was the artist for the mural in honor of poet and teacher Sonia Sanchez near Temple University. His mural “Evolving Elements” was displayed at the Philadelphia International Airport through its Exhibitions program.

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