How did showing in the exhibition impact your career as an artist?
“It allowed me to pull together a cohesive group of images from a large body of work and show it in a wonderful venue close to where I live. “It allowed me to pull together a cohesive group of images from a large body of work and show it in a wonderful venue close to where I live.”
His work references and builds on precedentary works about man made environments as structural embodiments of the cultural, economic, and political forces shaping the urban landscape. The goal is a personal interpretation of extraordinary and familiar sites anew.
North Facade of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy is from an ongoing body of work which began in Berlin in 2012 and continues in Italy. It was included in a two-person exhibition, “Facciate: Architectural Overlays in Italy, A Photographic Exhibition by James B Abbott & Blaise Tobia” at Cherry Street Pier in Philadelphia, PA in 2022.
James B. Abbott a photographer, arrived in Philadelphia in 1981 and, from his first loft seventy-five feet from the Ben Franklin Bridge, began photographing the bridge and its neglected riverfront neighborhood. The Ben Franklin Bridge is an ever-present icon in these photographs, viewed from an abandoned and decaying riverfront and from the emptied-out blocks that were in the process of becoming the Vine Street Expressway. He went on to other long term urban landscape projects, Berlin 1988-1992 & 2012-2013 and Cape Cod National Seashore 2000-2012, returning to reinterpret the bridge and its surroundings with three additional bodies of work since 1989. He maintained a studio/gallery on North Third Street until 2015, has exhibited and curated shows on the Ben Franklin Bridge and its urban landscape, and from 2013-2023, while teaching in Italy, generated two new bodies of work on the architecture and urban landscape of Florence and Venice.
Abbott graduated from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and over the course of thirty-five years has received numerous grants, awards, residencies, commissions, and maintained a freelance photography practice. His fellowships include two Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Fellowship Awards, a fellowship with the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, 2013 Artist Fellowship from the Independence Foundation for this Berlin: Landscape of Memory Project. In 2011 Abbott was invited to be an Honored Guest Photographer as part of the Lishusi International Photo Festival in China. Past appointments include: serving as photographer of the Stieglitz Center at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gallery Director for Aperture’s Burden Gallery, as well as teaching at the Penland School of Crafts, University of the Arts, Philadelphia University, and Tyler School of Arts. For the last ten years, Abbott has been teaching in the Italy Intensives Program of East Carolina Univeristy in Certaldo, Italy. He prints all of his own work and has a sizable photographic archive of Philadelphia, Berlin, Cape Cod, Venice, and Florence Italy.