"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger." Never has the philosopher - Friedrich Nietzsche's phrase resonated with such uncommon relevance as it has in the life of James Randall Chumbley.
Born in Fayette, Alabama in the deeply segregated South in 1955, James Randall grew up in Columbus and Warner Robins, Georgia to parents that were mentally and emotionally unavailable. Early on, he found himself trying to stay afloat in the sea of his parents’ alcoholism. Chumbley – the middle of three children — was raised in an environment of abuse, chaos, instability, and violence. Despite these obstacles, however, James Randall persevered; eventually graduating from the Baptist influenced Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. It was here he studied art and psychology — discovering and exploring his love of beauty and the difficulties and struggles often associated with achieving it. After college, the artist wanted to live to California, but moved to Atlanta, Georgia — biggest city closest to home — so he could look after his mother until she passed in late 2006. She was a true Southern beauty, but suffered gravely from Mental Illness, exasperated by the abuse and violence rained down by his father. When James Randall was seventeen, his father shot himself in the living room of their house. "I got down on my hands and knees to clean up what that bullet had left behind to spare my mother from seeing it again, and so my younger sister wouldn't. At the time, I didn't know my father's blood on my hands would leave a lasting stain on my soul, nor that the devastating pain of that childhood would shadow me to this day," the artist stated.
After first moving to Atlanta, he began making a name for himself in the city’s eclectic, yet welcoming, art world. It was at this time he began to explore another outlet for his creativity. It started with poems about his difficult past experiences and short stories about life in general, eventually becoming an obsession to document his multi-faceted life including the abuse and violence of his childhood using a new medium – the written word in his first book, “In the Arms of Adam: a diary of men.” It was later followed by two more books, “Before the Last Dance” and “Alabama Snow.”
"I hope I’ve helped people through my writing as well as my art. I find writing is very much like painting with words. Art has always been an escape for me even as a young child. I would hide away in a closet or a corner with paper and crayons drawing places to run away from the yelling and screaming that echoed off the walls of our house that was never a home, as well as from my father’s belt."
For many years, after moving to Atlanta, Chumbley has been involved as an activist and remains effective within several AIDS, Youth, Homeless, Equal Rights, and Mental Health Service Organizations, donating his art which encompasses contemporary landscapes, abstracts, and nudes using the media of oil, wax, varnish, and photography. His work has been in several galleries and is in many impressive private and corporate collections across the country.
In July 2013, the artist and writer moved to the Palm Springs area of California after barely surviving emotionally his last four years in Atlanta due to the betrayal of his ex partner and the egregious actions that followed. "The betrayal served as the catalyst allowing all the ugliness of my childhood to come to the surface. I became paralyzed with depression after years of believing I was lucky I'd survived ... or thought I had my father's violence and made a good life for myself." Making the move after thirty-two years, James Randall remains dedicated to his art and writing, and continues to be generous with his work donating it to many of those worthwhile charitable organizations when asked. Chumbley states, “Donating my work to help others gives my life a true purpose.” James Randall tries to live my three rules: Love more than you’re loved; give more than you take; and leave it better than you found it.
In 2016, he moved to the foothills in Desert Hot Springs where he lives in an iconic Mid Century home. He says, "California suites me." James Randall is presently completing his fourth book project, and spends his time between the desert, Los Angeles, and Laguna Beach.