Stories of Empire

About "Stories of Empire"

◊ History and Mission Statement

◊ Crew

Jim Gion, Sculptor

Jerry Carlton, Filmmaker

Jim Lowry, Filmmaker

History and Mission Statement

In 2008 I began doing portraits of people homeless on the streets of Portland, Oregon. The stories they told me about themselves and their lives were riveting and full of human interest. I decided that I should try to record the conversations that I was having with my models as I was modeling the clay. The project I call “Stories of Empire” consists of a series of conversations with these people recorded on video as I worked on their portraits in clay. Almost all of these first models were homeless. I want now to include people from all economic levels and walks of life in this project. This series of videos will let us see the world through the eyes of others as they relate to us their first hand experiences. We will learn about the lives of people with whom we are otherwise often unlikely to interact and in the process become more conscious of how we are the same and how we differ. The more we understand about the circumstances of each other’s lives the more likely we are to see our common humanity and to feel some compassion for people who otherwise only seemed strange or threatening to us. My purpose in doing this project is to help raise consciousness in this way.

- Jim Gion, Sculptor


Jim Gion, Sculptor

Jim Gion, Sculptor

Jim Gion was born in Oregon and began playing with clay as a youngster. Since that time his interest in making sculptural images has never flagged. Even while serving in Vietnam he sought out an old Vietnamese sculptor who taught him to make bronze castings. After returning from Vietnam, Jim studied Fine Arts at Oregon State University and Portland State University. Jim graduated from Oregon State with his B.A. in 1976 and then returned to Asia where for ten years he lived and worked in Japan, maintaining a studio and producing numerous works in clay and plaster. Since returning to the U.S. in 1984, he has continued to work in bronze and other media including terra cotta, raku, steel, glass, and cast paper.

Jim’s work is in international collections, and he has completed commissions for private and religious organizations. His mastery of clay and bronze has been praised by both individual and corporate clients. Jim has been featured in magazine and newspaper articles on numerous occasions.  Animal Planet has included segments of him working on figurines of championship dogs for the Eukanuba championship trophy during their national broadcast of the AKC/Eukanuba Championship show several years in a row. On January 11, 2005, Deborah Wood referred to him as “The head master” in an article she wrote for The Oregonian. Deborah also wrote a feature article on Jim entitled “Capturing the Essence” for the December 2004 edition of the AKC Gazette. His work was featured on the cover of the October 15, 2009 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Hundreds of satisfied customers are a testament to Jim’s communication skills, his ability to bid projects accurately, and his commitment to deliver his work on time. Throughout his career he has shown he is able to work within an established budget, whether the project was a large monument such as the nine-foot-high bronze columns for the Japanese American Historical Plaza in downtown Portland, or a four-inch-high bronze figurine of a Bichon Frise for the IAMS pet care department of Proctor & Gamble. Over the past five years, he has successfully completed an average of 35 commissioned bronze sculptures a year.

Jim is interested in non-profit and community work. He has donated his time and art to help with fundraising for the Oregon Humane Society, Parkrose School District and other non-profit groups. In 1997 he volunteered to teach a year long course in portraiture at Parkrose High School and in 1998 he modeled and donated a one half life sized bronze figurine of the “Prescott Panther,” the school mascot,  to Prescott Elementary School in Portland. He occasionally makes trips to Vietnam where he is an official guest artist of Maison Chance, a not-for-profit organization that helps orphans and physically disabled people in Ho Chi Minh City.


Jerry Carlton, Filmmaker

Jerry Carlton


Homeless Advocate and Filmmaker;  Has worked as a horseshoer and mule packer, aerial tram operator/mechanic, outfitter/guide in Alaska and Idaho, actor/voiceover/production on over 100 films and commercials in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Mexico and Portland.  Currently an on-call resident advocate with Transition Project inc., Portland.


Jim Lowry, Film Maker



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