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Untitled (The Big Attic Interior)
James Castle (1899–1977)

Location: Boise, Idaho, United States

Date: 1950–1970

Materials: Found paper and soot

Dimensions: 9 1/2 × 13 1/2"

Credit: Gift of Thomas Isenberg

Accession Number: 2001.32.2

Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth

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Description

The first American school to teach deaf students a codified language of signing was established in Connecticut in 1817. Before then, personal methods of communication were devised by families for use in their immediate circles. Although he was born in rural Idaho at the turn of the twentieth century, the deaf artist James Castle did not speak, sign, read, or write; he communicated with his family through his own system of hand gestures. That he was highly aware of his surroundings is evidenced by the many captivating drawings of landscapes, room interiors, and figures that he saw around him every day. 

Castle had plentiful materials available, as his parents’ home served as the community’s post office and general store, but he preferred making his own supplies using matter from his environment that connected him directly to his artmaking. He used recycled paper and envelopes, made his own implements from sharpened sticks, devised pigment from stove soot mixed with saliva and colored tissue paper ground to a pulp, and made a flour paste for his collages. Through these raw materials, Castle documented his world, silent but closely observed.

Stacy C. Hollander, "Untitled (The Big Attic Interior)," exhibition label for Jubilation|Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2012.


Untitled (The Big Attic Interior)
Date: 1950–1970
Artist:
Dimensions: 9 1/2 × 13 1/2"
Materials: Found paper and soot
Credit Line: Gift of Thomas Isenberg
Place/Region: United States, Boise
Accession Number: 2001.32.2
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