James Castle


Interior with Table and Window
Soot on cardboard, soot, spit and string.
17.5″ x 12″
From the Collection of Eric Barnes.

(1899-1977) James Castle was born in Garden Valley, Idaho, a remote town about fifty miles from Boise. Born profoundly deaf, he never learned to sign, spell or speak. His family took care of him. Observing life around him, he made art every day of his life from found materials. His drawings were composed of soot, saliva and a sharpened stick. Castle made numerous drawings and three dimensional constructions. He made books which were hand bound with his stitches and filled every page with his intricate pictures. He was discovered when his niece brought his art to the attention of Boise gallery owner, Jacqueline Christ. In 1997 the Chicago organization Intuit presented a one-man show. Castle’s work can be found in numerous galleries as well the Boise Art Museum, University of Oregon Museum of Art, Henry Art Gallery in Washington University , Seattle. The Foundation of Self Taught Artists produced a documentary called, James Castle: Portrait of an Artist which is a wonderful biography about James Castle.