Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Last Saturday, a little group of us took a trip to the Art Institute (apparently everyone else had the same idea; the place was packed). I was most excited to check out the new modern wing and Apostles of Beauty.
On the way to all that, however, we stopped by a little set of rooms that houses a retrospective of James Castle, a largely untrained, deaf artist from rural Idaho. Castle never learned sign language or lip reading, so his art was his primary means of communication.
His work is wonderful in its own right. I'm in love with how pieces that are so rustic can depict such futuristic and wildly imaginative scenes. But there's something else extra special about Castle.
The museum has more than 200 pieces of his work on display. Castle worked with all sorts of found materials--food cartons, old letters, envelopes--and a combination of soot and spit and natural dye as mediums. Not only was he resourceful, the materials and sheer number of pieces made it seem as if he couldn't not make art.
Like he was absolutely compelled to create.
I can think of so many times I put off projects because I don't have the right stuff--I need another canvas or I don't like the fabric I have on hand or I should buy fancier paper. But this guy didn't stop. Couldn't stop. It was so wonderful to see all of his work preserved. So I'm using his perseverance to inspire me to stop stalling and hemming and hawing and just get on with it already.
Thanks for the new year push, James!