James C. Patterson was born on June 28, 1959 - a Sunday child full of grace - in Phoenix, Arizona, to T.A. and Christine Patterson. His family moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where James attended Peeple’s Junior High and Wingfield High School. He became interested in photography after being exposed to the photos taken by his grandparents of their many travels and he studied photography at Hinds Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi. He opened his own photography business shortly after graduating from USM and embarked on a career documenting Mississippi – mostly by taking photographs of its artists. Two of his favorite subjects were Eudora Welty and Willie Morris both of whom were friends. James was one of two photographers allowed to print Welty’s own photographs and, in 1992, James collaborated on a Eudora Welty Portfolio produced by the Department of Archives and History and Diogenes Editions.
James’ work was important to him but equally important were his friends. The pals he made in childhood he kept for life and every year he added more. After he was diagnosed with cancer in May of 2018 it became clear just exactly how many and how great were James’ friends because the outpouring of love shown him in the last few months was unprecedented and brought him so much happiness. He was honored with a show of his portraits at the Mississippi Museum of Art in July 2018 and, in August, a concert at Duling Hall that reunited many of the musician friends who had made Jackson something of a musical mecca in the 1980s. This year James was selected to receive the 2019 Governor’s Arts Award.
He is survived by his wife Jane Tucker; his siblings: Eve Clark, Mona Ramirez, Elizabeth Nemeth, Melissa Patterson, and Jason Patterson; his many nieces and nephews; his cousins Marilyn, Louis, Will, Katie and Thomas Fuselier; and many, many, many friends. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother Joel Patterson.
He will be honored at a 6:00pm memorial at Hal & Mal’s on Nov 3, 2018 and will be buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Jackson, Mississippi.