Born in Oil City, James Norman attended the Southwestern Institute of Art in Shreveport. During World War II, he served in the Navy Seabees, and was stationed in Hawaii. While there, he hosted his first art show. After the war, in 1946, he had another show of his work at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum.
Norman then enrolled in Louisiana Tech, and graduated with a Civil Engineering degree. As a hobby, Norman created beautifully detailed scale models of historic ships of his favorite subject. The exhibit includes boat models representing a history of modern construction starting with flat boats and keel boats, instrumental in early river navigation, and steam powered stern wheeler boats used to transport cotton on Red River. A member of the Men’s Art Guild, Norman also interpreted local architecture and ships in oil paintings and water color.  Watch the video below to hear Mr. Norman talk about his life and work.