Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
The papers of arts educator James A. McGrath measure 5.4 linear feet and date from 1950-2011. Included are McGrath's papers concerning his artist's residencies and workshops for the United States Information Agency (USIA) in the Yemen Republic, Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of the Congo, 1990-1995. Also found are McGrath's papers concerning artist William Wiley. These papers date from Wiley's high school days and includes correspondence, writings, student files, printed materials, photographs, and artwork.
Wiley's high school student files consist of exams and two Columbia High School yearbooks with contributions from Wiley. Correspondence includes mostly letters written from Wiley to McGrath, some of which are illustrated. There are also Christmas cards, postcards, prints, and a wedding invitation and photograph of Wiley and his wife Mary. Wiley writes about his artwork, family, travels, and his mother's death. There are also letters to McGrath from Wiley's first and second wives, Dorothy and Mary, his mother, and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Tobey.
Printed materials include exhibition catalogs and announcements, news and magazine clippings, and the books "Distraction," "Lyrica," and "Almost Old/New Poems," all illustrated by Wiley.
Artwork by Wiley includes block prints, sketches and drawings, poems, paintings, prints, and posters. Photographs are of Wiley's high school yearbook staff, artwork and exhibitions, and a dinner honoring Wiley. There is a signed high school photograph of Wiley and a booklet of photographs of an exhibition of McGrath's art. There are also slides of artwork by Wiley, Bob Hudson, and Bill Allan.
Additional 3.4 linear feet donated 2013-2016 includes 9 photograph albums; teaching material; printed material regarding McGrath's artist's residencies and workshops for the United States Information Agency (USIA) in the Yemen Republic, Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of the Congo, 1990-1995; four works of art on paper by William T. Wiley, 1953-1956 and a drawing with symbols on tree bark for McGrath signed by Wiley 4/28/55; and an oversized illustrated letter from Wiley to McGrath, 1955, when Wiley was a senior in high school and McGrath was teaching for the U.S. Department of Defense in Hanua, Germany. In the letter Wiley writes about his classmates, his scholarship award to the California School of Fine Arts, his term paper on "man's need for expression," and other topics.
James A. McGrath papers, 1950-2011. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Six Documenta catalogs, originally donated to AAA with the James A. McGrath Papers Concerning William T. Wiley, were deaccessioned and transferred to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
The Archives of American Art also holds several collections related to William T. Wiley including an oral history interview conducted by Paul J. Karlstrom, October 8- November 20, 1997 and the William T. Wiley illustrated journals on microfilm reel 910. Additional papers of James A. McGrath located at the University of Washington.
James A. McGrath (1928- ) is an artist and educator in Santa Fe, New Mexico. McGrath was a high school art teacher at Columbia High School in Richland, Washington, where he taught William T. Wiley.
The papers were donated by James A. McGrath in five accessions between 2010-2015. A drawing on tree bark was donated by William T. Wiley in 2016 (McGrath returned the sketch to Wiley at the time of his donation to the Archives in 2015).
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001