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Bruce Presents-On the Threshold: A Conversation on James Castle with John Beardsley and Brenda Brueggemann

Wednesday, May 17, 2023, 6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m. - Lecture starts promptly at 6:00 pm!

On view through May 28, 2023, James Castle: Thresholds focuses on the artist’s interest in thresholds—the boundaries and in-between spaces that predominate in Castle’s work. The exhibition features more than fifty works, including rarely seen books and constructions drawn from the collection of the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation in Mount Kisco, New York, and the James Castle Collection and Archive in Boise, Idaho. In conjunction with this exhibition, the Bruce Museum will host an in-person public program on Wednesday, May 17th, 2023, at 6:00 p.m., in the brand-new Gale and Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., and Pamela and Robert Goergen Auditorium. Artist, curator, and educator John Beardsley will join Brenda Jo Brueggemann (professor of English, American Studies, and Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut, where she also serves as the Aetna Endowed Chair of Writing) in conversation to discuss the exhibition, as well as the artist’s background and creative process.

Support for Bruce Presents is generously provided by Berkley One, a Berkley Company.

Space is limited. Online registration required.

Lecture starts promptly at 6:00 pm!

Cost: Adults - $20, Students - $15 / Members FREE 

Sign language interpretation and captioning will be provided for this event.

John Beardsley

John Beardsley is an author, curator, and educator. He has written extensively on self-taught and outsider art, including Gardens of Revelation: Environments by Visionary Artists and the recent monograph on James Castle, Memory Palace. Among his exhibitions are “Black Folk Art in America” (Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1982); “Hispanic Art in the United States” (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1987), both with Jane Livingston; and "The Quilts of Gee's Bend" (Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 2002), with Jane Livingston and Alvia Wardlaw. Trained as an art historian, he received an A.B. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He taught history in the department of landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design from 1998 to 2013, and was director of Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. from 2008-19. He is currently curator of the Cornelia Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize for the Cultural Landscape Foundation.


Brenda Jo Brueggemann is a professor of English, American Studies, and Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut, where she also serves as the Aetna Endowed Chair of Writing. In the glorious summers, she teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College, Vermont. She has been deaf (genetic) from birth. In the mid-1990s, bolstered by the passage of the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act, she helped conceptualize the new field of Disability Studies. She has written, co-written, edited, or co-edited 16 books, including 9 memoirs in the Deaf Lives series she created for Gallaudet University Press, and more than 75 essays, articles, and films at the intersections of Deaf/Disability Studies and writing/art.  She recently co-curated an exhibit on “Deaf Art in America: Shaped by the American Dream”; in 2013 , she curated an exhibit of James Castle’s work, Constructing James Castle, for the Urban Arts Space in Columbus, OH and created a film around that exhibit.  Her current research projects center on disability and deafness in the visual, literary, and performance arts and on historical and human rights recovery and recognition for now-closed institutions for people with disabilities in the U.S.  

Background image: James Castle (American, 1899–1977) ⁠

Untitled (Room Interior/Room Interior with Patterned Door), n.d. ⁠

Found paper, soot, ink, 5-1/8 x 7-1/8 in. ⁠

The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation ⁠

© James Castle Collection and Archive LP. Image provided courtesy of the James Castle Collection and Archive, Boise, Idaho. ⁠

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