About James Phillip Nicholls

Born in Chicago, James Nicholls interrupted his study of philosophy at university to hitchhike Route 66. He may have wanted to be invisible, but he returned home to work as a fireman on the railroad and later as a motorman on the El train. He concluded his undergraduate work publishing poetry and studying literature.

While in seminary to become an Episcopal priest, he watched the Chicago riots on TV and questioned what he was doing while the world was radically shifting and convulsing. Following the work of Ingmar Bergman, he studied the ways people create their own suffering and export it to others. But he also found that suffering has within it a means of healing. 

He turned to the camera as a tool for connecting with the life of the world, connecting in ways words could also reveal. What one writer called "awakening to our original face."

There were many changes occurring in the social fabric, but the inner life, discussed in many books of his youth by authors such as Wordsworth, Merton, Jung, and Auden, brought a sense of nobility to the search in the everyday. This he hoped to make visible.

photo: Joshua Kogan, 2014

photo: Joshua Kogan, 2014