James Neal

Visual Artist in New York, NY

My paintings relate my coming of age as a gay man. In particular I have weaponized the male form and my own self-imagery to render the complex emotions triggered by negotiating my identity in a straight world- one which still regards queer people with dismissiveness and contempt.

In recasting the narrative around the charged symbolism of the erotic male form, I seek to confront, provoke, and redefine perceptions in ways that challenge normative constructions of masculinity, place and morality. By offering up the most vulnerable parts of myself, I coax the viewer to play a role in this dynamic of otherness that is so central to my work.

I am a native of North Carolina and live in Bushwick, New York with my partner Dylan. I'm a father of two adult sons and a storyteller. After graduating from Chapel Hill and the University of Chicago I worked as an investment banker and start-up executive. I have been an activist for equality for four decades since my coming out in the late 1980s. In 2008 I became the second openly-gay person in US history to run for the US Senate (D-NC). Ten years later I began painting, and in 2019 completed a compilation of 50 portraits in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. In 2022 my work was featured in expositions of outdoor art in Montpellier and Paris as well the exhibition Transforming Mindsat the East Village Art Collective in New York.

I have been a contributing writer to a host of publications mainly on current social issues and a lecturer on contemporary US politics as an adjunct professor- focusing on the corrosive influence of money in politics. News outlets CNBC, NPR, NBC, ABC, FOX, Channel One (Britain) and ORF (Austria) have featured me as a guest.

  • Education
    • The University of Chicago
    • The University of North Carolina