James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.


A Review of 23


Today is my 24th birthday. Looking back, 23 was one hell of a year.

Every birthday I do a blogged reflection of where I’ve come in the last year. Keeping up and maintaining On The Firefly (where this was originally posted) for 4 years, I just don’t know what to do with all these thoughts so I write them down. I’m a big component of sharing your work and your feelings, the good and ugly. 23 years old was a big year: from amazing to heart-wrenching. I want to share it all while looking back.

Instagram has been doing a great job as one hell of a visual time capsule. All links refer back to a corresponding image, so read and click along!

July 2012:

Last year’s birthday, I took myself out to brunch and saw my first ever CreativeMornings. I had just moved out to Chicago a month ago with C’ne who was my girlfriend at the time. Little did I know we had a year in store for us.

August 2012:

On a whim, C’ne and I traveled up to Detroit and Canton, MI to support the young woman we’ve been mentoring, Liv Moore. She had a graduation party before she came down to Chicago for school and lovingly invited us. We learned quite a bit about each other and Detroit during this trip, saw some amazing beaches, and got lost quite a bit along the way. Oh yeah, we also got fake married, saw my first White Sox game while living in Chicago, and learned not to Work for Free.

September 2012:

After getting in our groove living in Chicago, we invited friends up to show them around the neighborhood. I also had my first “real” client, in which I learned how to properly price and invoice my work. Columbia College was kind enough to show one of my art pieces at their Like, Share, Follow opening, and C’ne and I tackled all the plaid and cupcakes we could find at our first Renegade Craft Fair. Across the street from our house, I witnessed the power of unions with the Chicago Teacher’s Strike and visited my first printing press. The month rounded off with celebrating C’ne’s birthday with a few dollar bills.

October 2012:

We officially christened our home with a housewarming party, bringing together our closest friends to celebrate our move to a new city. I also learned the stresses of owning a car in Chicago with a largerepair that left me in debt but made me realize the power in friends and family that are always willing to help. I discovered new walkingroutesand beautiful sunsets as the days started to get shorter and colder.

November 2012:

I helped make history again for this country through voting and had my art writing debut with Chicago Artist Writers. I celebrated an anniversary with my church and saw the first snow of the season. I celebrated a friend coming home from the Air Force and tackled major fears about my career. I also took, what I didn’t know at the time, the last picture I ever would of my Great-Grandmother during Thanksgiving. My University interviewed me for their paper, made a workout video art piece to share with Chicago, and saw two of my good friends become engaged atop the John Hancock.

December 2012:

I began brainstorming for an upcoming art show and wore ugly sweaters at holiday parties. There were bowtiesholiday CTA trains and sharing moments with those that you love. My voice grew hoarse singing to one of my favorite bands and rung in the new year in Gender Neutral bathrooms with some of my favorite people.

January 2013:

I started a side project, Patterns in Places, that faded away, and danced the night away with a Prince look-a-like.

February 2013:

One of my best friends beat cancer and C’ne and I put our fancy feet forward. I finally got rid of my car and gave it to my mom and discovered muscles I never knew I had. I helped put together the TEDxWindyCity conference and it was a memorable experience.

March 2013:

I showed work at my first juried art exhibition and started to participate with Filter Photo Festival as a staff member. I explored more of the South Side and discovered some gems, met Jesse Jackson, and made the most artwork ever in a month period.

April 2013:

The month that was an emotional rollercoaster. My car woes were over and I joined Zipcar and with the help of a lot of friends started to build my first zine. There was a little thing that happened where I proposed to my girlfriend in Milwaukee and then 5 days later I lost my great-grandmother which shut me down for weeks. Luckily our family is quite strong and we always have each other for support, just the way she would have like it.

May 2013:

joined the Chicago biking community with my first set of wheels and distributed over 250 copies of my first zine. My largest group show at Chicago Artists Coalition opened and spent a lot of time with family. I quit my print designer job in suburbs and started a new digital designer job in Chicago.

June 2013:

Attending one of my best friends’ cancer benefit proved to be a loving experience and then attending another best friends’ cancer benefit proved to show the power of long lasting friendships.

July 2013:

Family barbeques and grandmothers dancingsummer concerts and addressing your blackness with aheartwrenching court case verdict, my first Pitchfork Music Festival and discovering new bike routes led me to where I am today.

So now 24 years old is here. All I can say is I will remember 23 as a life changing year full of transition and moments where I can be thankful for all the wonderful family and friends in my life. There were many times to celebrate, and many times where tears have fallen. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for you all, and I thank you.

Here’s to the next year.

James T. Green