||James Drake Stratakos
||Adjunct Professor of Fine Arts
Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design - Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
Current MFA candidate, emphasis in Painting and Drawing
Photography; Photojournalism; and the Genre of the Photo Essay
Current areas of research include Painting, Design, Drawing, and Sculpture.
Stratakos is currently an MFA candidate with an emphasis in Painting and Drawing.
Jim Stratakos was born and educated in New York City. He won a city wide high school art competition in Painting which included a scholarship to study at the Brooklyn Museum of Art for the summer where he studied figure painting under American Painter, Francis Cunningham. The following year, he entered Pratt Institute and studied painting under Gabriel Ladderman. Stratakos' interest then switched to three dimensional design and he pursued and received a degree in Industrial Design.
Years later, Stratakos became a photojournalist. He spent a career working for two newspapers, the Raleigh News and Observer and The Rock Hill Herald. Stratakos found the role of being an artist, with a camera, brush, or any tool, is multi-layered. His career as a photojournalist allowed Stratakos to see up close the fragments that make up humanity, both the good and bad. It also instilled in him how the power of images can help institute social change.
Stratakos' most memorable assignment while working in photojournalism was when reporter James Scott and Stratakos reported on the Blackmon Road Community in Rock Hill, South Carolina. In 2000, the Blackmon Road Community was living in third world conditions. When The Herald ran the story, a two day piece with large picture play and word space, the people of York County responded. Winthrop University played a major role in displaying Stratakos' photos and James Scott’s words, thanks to the Winthrop University Galleries Director at that time, Tom Stanley. For their work on this story, Stratakos and Scott won the Prestigious McClatchy President's Journalism Award.
Stratakos has received numerous SC Press Photography awards during his career including a First Place Photo Story award for his depiction of the conditions in the Korogocho Slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Stratakos covered that story during a trip to Kenya in 2006 in support of orphans that the Kenya Orphanage Project (KOP), a non–profit group, rescued from the Korogocho slum. Those conditions have burned a hole in Stratakos' conscience. In 2011, Stratakos again returned to Kenya with the KOP group, to help the children and monitor how they were doing. While there, he also taught art and design classes to children in Nairobi. Stratakos was amazed at their talent! He also helped research the best schools for the children to attend.
Stratakos retired from the Herald in February of 2011. He is a Board Member of the Kenya Orphanage Project and continues to use his photojournalism skills to create awareness of the plight of KOP orphans and people living in impoverished conditions in the hope of instituting social change.
Stratakos also tries to instill in his photo students the incredible potential their photographic skills can do to make a difference in the world. He tries to take every class on a field trip to the Blackmon Road Community to see an example of social change. In 2010, Stratakos returned to painting and entered the MFA graduate program in Painting at Winthrop University. For Stratakos, this becomes another layer and tool to help him work within the social narrative to help institute social change and become the best visual artist he can be.