Visiting Artist: James Spratt ('78)

Memorial Exhibition in Sculpture

What: Alumni Memorial Exhibition: James Killian Spratt (Class of 1978)
When: February 26, 2018–March 23, 2018
Where: S. Tucker Cooke Gallery
Opening Reception: Closing Rececption: Friday, March 23, 2018, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Gallery Hours: 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. Monday–Friday 

Free and open to the public.

View images of the Installation.

As part of the Visiting Alumni Series, sculptural work by James Spratt (Class of 1978) will be on view in the Second Floor Gallery, Owen Hall, February 26 through March 23, 2018. The memorial exhibition will have a Closing Reception on Friday, March 23, 6:00-8:00 p.m.. (Gallery will be closed for Spring Break March 12-16.)

James Killian Spratt was born in 1950 in Frankfurt, Germany, to an American father and Scottish mother. In 1953, as a precocious three-year-old back at home in North Carolina, he transformed a block of modeling clay into a surprisingly realistic elephant. At that moment, he didn't discover his life's calling--it discovered him. This artistic gift would serve him throughout his entire life, while earning his BFA in Fine Arts at UNC Asheville, serving in the U.S. Navy in Korea from 1970 to 1974, and bringing innumerable works of art to life, right up to the day he lost his long battle with cancer in 2016.

The vivid, lifelike quality of his bronze sculptures captures the energy and spirit of each of his subjects, from majestic wildlife to monuments for renowned public figures. 

Spratt was, indeed, a prolific artist. A search on his name will bring up hundreds of sculptures and ezine art. It is one of his end-of-life works that is perhaps the most fascinating. (His actual last sculture was Wade, a Pony Express rider galloping on a steed with his gun drawn** that was sent to be bronzed the day before he died on September 24, 2016, following a seven year battle with cancer.) 

In April 2016, Asheville television station, WLOS, selected James Killian Spratt to be their "Person of the Week" for offering his talent to "give back" to the organization that had done so much for him, The Charles George VA Medical Center [Read full article]: 

"I've already lived beyond my time because of the services of the VA," Spratt said.

Grateful to the VA medical center for prolonging his life, the Navy veteran wanted to do something that few can do, for a place that's done so much for him.

He offered to mold a likeness of Medal of Honor soldier Charles George into life-sized forever statue. It will be placed in front of the Charles George VA Medical Center that bears his name once it's bronzed.  Pvt. 1st Class Charles George was a Cherokee soldier, and one of only 28 Native Americans to ever be awarded the congressional Medal of Honor. He saved the lives of his friends by throwing himself on a grenade in the Korean War. 

Fast forward six months to October to an update on the previous television segment, and the long awaited dedication that Spratt had held onto life for that moment. It was an important moment, not for just him, the medical staff and the patients, but it was a sacred ceremony for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Although Spratt was not Cherokee, a week after his death, he was honored by the Cherokee by having some of his ashes placed next to the grave of his fellow veteran, Charles George. On Veteran's Day a duplicate statue was unveiled in Cherokee. 

**For additional information and to view a sculpture of Spratt's memorial, Dousing the Devil (2000) at Hendersonville Fire Station No.1 to fallen firefighters, and features a likeness of Charlie King, read the Bill Moss article in Hendersonville Lightning, (September 27, 2016) here.