James D. Malcolm, an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, was born in Robeson County, NC to J.T. and Vera Locklear Malcolm. He is the grandson of the late Rev. C.E. and Annie Lizzie Locklear.
Throughout his younger years, James was continually exposed to the arts by his mother who is a musician herself. Through the inspiration of his art teachers, Delora Cummings and Gloria (Tara) Lowery, James attended various art programs during his high school years which deepened his love and appreciation of the arts. These programs were located at and/or sponsored by LRDA, Brevard College, and the NC School of the Arts in Winston Salem.
While attending college, James quickly realized that he wanted to further his education in the arts. He graduated from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts with concentrations in both Ceramics and Painting. James pursue a degree in Art Education. His goal was to teach art in the primary school setting. He returned to UNC Pembroke and graduated with a Masters of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T) specializing in the field of Art.
“My contemporary art version of the pinecone patchwork represents the modern day Lumbee, yet still honors the generations that have come before us; their struggles and fights that have led to the opportunities that so many of us have today. During this process I have acquired a renewed sense of the craftsmanship and heritage from which it was derived.”
James is inspired by the unlimited potential of materials that can be used in the design. The combination of special paper, fabrics, and other textiles that he uses to create the patchwork art is inspirational.
The invigorating part of the process is choosing the palette I will create from. I am able to choose the patterns, textures, and colors of material combinations that match each personality. Each piece is pridefully hand crafted and a distinct representation of the owner. This is definitely the driving force in my creativity. I embrace the moment when the piece comes together and the owner says, “Wow! That looks exactly like me!”
Through the process of creating the pinecone patchwork art, James have developed his own personal “signature” design. The technique in which the patches are pieced to form a swirl-like motion is unique in design. For the inner circle, he incorporates genuine pinecone tips to embody the Long Leaf Pine Tree which the original design was adapted from. The name of his business, Dark Water Designs, was inspired by the dark waters of the Lumber River. The Lumber River flows through Robeson County, NC and is an intricate part of the Lumbee people. For that reason, they are commonly referred to as “People of the Dark Water”.
“God has truly blessed me to be able to produce artwork that resonates in the lives of my Lumbee people. I must give Him ALL the honor and glory for my creative abilities and passion that drives me on a consistent basis.”