James Dickerson (aka dirtykics)

James Dickerson (aka dirtykics)


July 15, 2019


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

I just wrapped up a project where I photographed people in the Junction area of Toledo. That effort led by David Ross of the Arts Commission, ended up being a wheat paste project on a boarded up business. Right now you can find portraits of people who are alive and well, on Junction and Nebraska. They each have a story to share. A big project I participated in was the RE:FORMATION project back in 2016. Two opportunities presented themselves: One was with a great friend of mine, Yusuf Lateef where we recited a poem in individual booths to strangers and friends. “I am not your enemy” was the title. I had some portraits on display in that hot ass corner room we had.

Second,  I displayed my work from the Trump protest outside of the Huntington Arena downtown. That work was on display in the front window of the that building on Jefferson, across from the arena. That night (the protest) was energetic. People wore their pride loud and clear on both sides but not many paid attention to the opportunist. The money making cats who sold tees and buttons regardless of their political affiliation. That is the true definition of capitalism in the USA. Do what you can when you can and you’ll survive another day.

What current projects are you working on?

I have a long term project that ends in 2023. I’ve sent 35mm camera’s into the world with the goal being one roll, some journalling, and the ability to take that camera everywhere until it’s finished. In 2023 I will develop the film and for publishing and exhibition. I hope to invite the users back for an update when they themselves see their work. This is about transition.

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

Location helps. We can get to major cities within an hour to 4.5, or flying to NYC (my favorite place to visit) is only a 2 hour trip. Ohio itself has an incredible amount of character, so one can visit almost anywhere and have an experience. It’s a cool state. And we are mega close to Detroit!

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

I don’t think I’ve experienced that yet. At least I don’t know how to identify it. I love what I’ve done and the people I’m lucky enough to call friends. And having kids,  those few things are great successes. I can’t say any individual one is less than the other. I cherish them all.

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

I’m inspired by my lack of communication. I use photography to communicate with people. It’s not that I’m a bum about friendliness but I don’t think I fit in with most folks. So the use of a camera has helped me edge closer to saying Hi. 

Tell us about your background.

I’m just a random dude with a camera and a desire to contribute to black history. No education behind my camera unless you count diligence as one. I taught myself how to develop film and print on silver gelatin paper. I give everything a year to learn. That’s more than enough to recognize your ability. 

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

I don’t think we have that unless you count the amount of festivals increasing per year. I think our growth is the secret. 

My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

The Attic and a few coffee shops.

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 

The corner of Fulton and Kenilworth where I grew up. 2nd to that is where Fulton Elementary used to be.

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 

I can’t seem to stop working :( but I do read, drink, write at the Attic on Sunday/Mondays and Thursday’s. 2 beers and I’m done!

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

I would eliminate the cliquish atmosphere that sometimes comes from within our own efforts. I think of Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest. He was either producing or rapping on so many joints that crossed genres in the 90’s and no one batted an eye at him for doing so. If he was a part of the project you knew it would be dope. That’s how creatives & progressives should be, able to move between genres without feeling about of place. That role shouldn’t be left up to one person every few people. Inspiration, we forget that it comes from everything. 

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

If things work out as planned I’ll be working with PHYBR on a mural project in a certain part of the city. Then there’s some work with Yusuf Lateef in early 2020. Also, Aly Krajewski, a very dope graphic designer, her and I are working on a few things that I hope materialize before the year is over. In-between that there’s always the work I do with David Ross (Gutta Dave). That’s year round so keep your eyes peeled.

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

I don’t have someone in either situation that I’d want to work with. I think the approach of collaboration should surprise you. Any preplanned ideas are usually lost after you say HI.

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

Stanley Greene’s Black Passport

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Humble, Surprising, Meaningful

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

Madvillian “Madvilliany”
At the Drive in “Relationship of Command.
A Tribe Called Quest “Midnight Marauders”
Flying Lotus “Los Angeles”

My biggest vice is . . .

Doubt. I doubt myself quite a bit.

I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

A true independent film theatre. Give me Anime, Shorts, B-movies , Foreign, all of that. Gimmie that and I’ll die a happy patron.

The last lyric that moved me was . . .

“Desk job or street life/ my fam gotta eat right?

“Anything is possible’ by  Blueprint from the album ‘1988”.

One movie character I identify with is . . .

Rocket from City of God.

I want my last meal to be ____________________ .

The sound of a loved one, watching me pass on after living a full life. That’s all I want to eat.


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