IUP Graduate Art Student Hits the Big Time in the Big Apple

Posted on 11/8/2013 11:41:06 AM

James McNabb, candidate for the Master of Fine Arts in Art and a student in IUP’s Center for Turning and Furniture Design, has recently seen his work splashed across the pages of some of America’s most prestigious magazines and journals. McNabb, whose graduate thesis show “Long Nights: Big City Lights” was a huge hit at IUP last year, has seen his signature miniature city skylines attract major notice in the past few months in a wide range of Internet-based and print publications.

James said of his life and work, “I am an intense person. I’ve been hearing that from people since I was a little kid. Rather than try to fight it, I embrace it, and work as hard as possible to show the world what that intensity can produce when fostered and developed. The work I make is the result of my desire to be the best at what I do. I observe the world around me, immerse myself in culture, and adapt to the challenges life presents to me.

“Lately, I have been inspired by cityscapes and what the city represents to me. I am exploring my own way of representing the urban landscape using the skills and techniques I have developed during my training as a woodworker and furniture maker. To me, the city represents the land of endless possibilities, a place where people go to make something out of nothing in search of fortune and fame. I aim to reflect those feelings when I put my headphones on, turn on the band saw, and make these objects. I get into my zone and all the stresses of the world go away. It’s meditative and therapeutic, a way to express my intensity through the act of making. The result is a composition of abstract architectural forms, no two alike, all from discarded scrap wood. It’s the epitome of making something out of nothing. They are my wooden cityscapes and my land of endless possibilities.

“The best has yet to come.”

James has finished all of his course work for the MFA and is currently putting the finishing touches on his written thesis. At the same time, he and his wife, Stephanie, a talented graphic designer and former adjunct professor of graphic design here at IUP, have opened McNabb & Co. Studio and have attracted a great deal of interest. Most notably, James’ Manhattan cityscape has been the central visual for this year’s New Yorker Festival, and as such has been featured in GQ, Vogue, the Wall Street Journal, and the New Yorker itself, as well as appearing all over New York City and as a major backdrop for festival activities. On September 30, James’ work was given an entire page in the New Yorker on its own merit. IUP can be very proud of his achievements.

Interested readers can find James’ work in the magazines mentioned above online at and on James’ own website.