In Memoriam:

James Seawright, 1936–2022

Jimmy, as he was affectionately known, passed away peacefully at home on Febru­ary 12. He was widely known for his architectural and electronic, inter­active light-and-sound sculptures (selected examples below). As a technical supervisor at the Colum­bia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, he worked closely with Nikolais in the devel­opment of his electronic scores. Early on, he contrib­uted sounds to the score for Imago as well as other works. Jimmy was also instru­mental in Nikolais’s acquisition of the first Moog synthesizer in 1964.


James Lemuel Seawright died February 12, 2022, of complications from Parkinson's disease. He was born in 1936 in Jackson, Mississippi.

Recognized as one of the foremost technological artists since the late 1960s, his works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, the New Jersey State Museum at Trenton, and other museums throughout the world.

Seawright received numerous commissions, including a large two-wall mirror sculpture at the Boston International Airport (Passing Reflections 1987, pictured above) and an interactive light and sound sculpture at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. He received numerous awards including an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Most recently his work Searcher was included in the exhibition Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art 1965–2018 at the Whitney Museum (September 2018–April 2019). His works Twins, Gemini, and Lyra were part of the exhibition “Uncharted: American Abstraction in the information Age” at the Hofstra University Art Museum (January–June 2020).

Seawright served as a professor at Princeton University and as director of the Visual Arts Program for many years. He retired in 2009.

James Seawright married Mimi Garrard in 1960. They collaborated throughout their careers (see video below). They received a lifetime achievement award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters in Jackson, and numerous awards for their virtual sculptures. Their group show "Mutual Muses" was shown recently at the Clara Eagle Gallery at Murray State University in Kentucky, and at the Ewing Galley of Art and Architecture at the University of Tennessee.

Seawright is survived by his wife Mimi Garrard, his son James Andrew Seawright, his daughter- in-law Nicole Seawright, grandson Samuel Seawright, granddaughter Hayden Seawright, sister- in- law Rebecca Seawright, and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Selected Electronic Sculptures by James Seawright

Electronic Peristyle, 1968

House Plants, 1983

Orbits VI, 1997

Eridanus, 2004

Ursa Major, 2001

Orion, 2001

Quartet, 1992

Ursa Major, 2001

Scanner, 1966

Captive, 1966

A wall-mounted work (above) consists of 225 mirrored panels, in a 15-by-15 grid, each one positioned at a slightly different angle. (Wadsworth Atheneum exhibition, 2017)

Watcher, 1965 (left) is Seawright’s most complicated creation—and his most musical. At right is a bank of flashing lights governed by magnets in the plastic shield in center. At left is a rocking, bobbing mechanism with photocell-tipped antennae which scan the lights and translate them into eerie eeps and boops.

A Memorial Overview of the Artist‘s Work