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James Kelly Fitzpatrick was born in 1888 near Wetumpka, Alabama. After a brief stint at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and a few months of training at the Art Institute of Chicago, Fitzpatrick enlisted in the Army in 1918 for active duty in France. Following only four months of service, Fitzpatrick suffered severe wounds from shrapnel, permanently scarring his face, neck and chest. The war and the wounds he received profoundly influenced Fitzpatrick's work. He told one student "I had been through the furnace of war and I knew that nothing mattered but the Spiritual things of this world." The pastoral beauty and vibrance of his work are a marked counterpoint to the destruction and pain that he experienced. After the war he returned to Wetumpka and actively painted. He attended the Academie Julian in Paris briefly in 1926 before returning home to Alabama. Fitzpatrick's contributions to the arts in Alabama is immeasurable. As a teacher, he was the first director of the Montgomery Museum of Art School and taught at the Dixie Art Colony at Lake Jordan. In 1930 he became a founding member of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and was active in many organizations including the Alabama Art League and the Southern States Art League.
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