Founding Fathers Black Hills

Artist Bios


Jim Maher

Bronze sculptor James Maher is used to seeing his finished artwork wearing little more than a patina.

So the handpainted faces and elaborately texturized fabrics that are bringing his latest pieces to life are a whole new artistic experience for the Belle Fourche sculptor.

“I find them really striking, especially the way the eyes are done. The folks painting the pieces are really doing a great job. I was pretty amazed by it all,” Maher said.
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James Van Nuys

James Van Nuys’ mind is the artistic force behind the Founding Fathers project. It’s his hands, however, that you’ll see in the finished artwork. The hands of many of the 47 figures in John Trumbull’s historic painting are cast from Van Nuys’ hands in different poses.

Casting his own hands into history is just one of the ingenious solutions that Van Nuys and his team came up with while tackling the numerous artistic challenges of the multi-media Founding Fathers sculpture project.
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Julie Farrell

Julie Farrell planned a career in marketing and communications, but a fortuitous phone call from her college art teacher steered her toward the Founding Fathers project and what she calls “the best job I’ve ever had.”

Farrell, a  37-year-old mother of three, has had many different jobs, including extensive experience as a bookkeeper, photographer, graphic designer and a trophy engraver.  But being part of the creative team that is bringing John Trumball’s historic painting, “Declaration of Independence” to fruition as a three-dimensional, life-size sculpture has been a dream come true for the Rapid City woman.
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Leah Nixon

Artist Leah Nixon applies a layer of texturizing glass beads to the coat of Oliver Wolcott, one of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, who is part of the Founding Fathers project that will turn John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence” painting  into life-size sculpture.

Leah Nixon brings a knowledge of lots of different artistic materials –  and that includes cake frosting – to the Founding Fathers project.
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