Directory profile: Jim Pounian
I grew up in a family of artists in the Chicago area and moved to Minneapolis in 1979. Both my parents were graduates of the Art Institute of Chicago. My mother received her BFA with a specialization in Calligraphy and my father received his MFA in Painting and Drawing. My father taught at the college level for thirty-eight years before becoming the Corporate Art Curator for a major bank in Chicago. Family life revolved around art; exhibits, art fairs and gallery visits were staples of our lives. As kids, we didn’t play pin the tail on the donkey at parties. We played pin the ear on Van Gogh.
My interest in photography goes back about as far as I can remember starting with a Kodak Brownie camera. An upgrade to a Kodak Instamatic in the 1960’s was a really big deal! I have owned at least one camera ever since. After the loss of a corporate job in 2009, I became more intent on pursuing my interest in photography. As a result, I bought my first DSLR camera in anticipation of a planned 4000 mile road trip through South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana in 2010. I have been very fortunate to travel extensively throughout my life. First, family trips during summer vacations and sabbatical leaves from my father’s teaching duties (including a year abroad in England followed four years later by a year studying at Oxford University), then with friends and on my own. In the past two years I have traveled nearly 50,000 miles including four trips to Alaska and extensive road trips totaling over 17,000 miles in 2012 alone. I have visited eighteen states, fifteen national parks and many national monuments.
I have a passion for landscape and wildlife photography, which represents a vast majority of my work, although I do not limit myself to these two genres. I will photograph anything I find interesting which includes cityscapes, abstracts and portraits. Two of my photographs were chosen as Editor’s Favorites for National Geographic’s “National Parks Week 2011” and I have been a finalist in four major competitions including Photographer’s Forum Magazine’s Annual Spring Photography Contest two years in a row. My work has appeared in eight juried exhibits, published in The Minneapolis StarTribune and three books. I was recognized with two Honorable Mentions in the International Photography Awards competition in Los Angeles in 2011 and most recently I received a Juror Award of Merit from the International Fine Art Photography Competition: Grand Prix de la Decouverte, Paris, France.
I believe that the purpose of art is to capture moments in time that can be shared with others to tell a story, or to simply prompt an emotional response from the viewer. If someone is intrigued by one of my abstracts and asks ‘what is it?’, or someone tells me they have downloaded one of my landscapes and they are using it as their screen saver, then I have succeeded as an artist.