Edward Deeds Exhibit in Missouri for the First Time

Edward Deeds Exhibit in Missouri

March 7 - 31, 2014


Springfield, MO – In celebration of March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Art Inspired is pleased to announce the opening of Talisman of the Ward: The Album of Drawings by Edward Deeds on Friday, March 7, 2014. Featuring a selection of fifteen drawings, the exhibition represents many of the important themes found within the extraordinary album of James Edward Deeds, Jr. (1908-1987), a near life-long ward of the state of Missouri and colorful mental patient at Nevada, Missouri’s State Hospital No. 3. This is the first time that the drawings will be exhibited in his native state of Missouri.

Mr. Deeds' story is typical of his era.  After growing up on a farm in Ozark, Missouri, he was committed tin 1936 to the state hospital in Nevada. His drawings were executed in graphite and crayon on the official ledger paper of the institution where he remained for nearly four decades.  The works are innocent, often fanciful and notably devoid of suffering, violence or the anger that one might associate with an artist presumably under psychological or emotional stress.  It is reasonable to assume that drawing was a therapeutic form of escape for Deeds.  After enduring many years of electroconvulsive therapy, there are many questions that remain today about the true diagnosis of Edward Deeds, but there are no answers.

Due to worsening health arthritis, Deeds stopped drawing by the mid 1960’s, at which time he presented his album to his mother. A series of missteps would have led to the album’s destruction, but for the remarkable sensitivity of a fourteen year-old boy who plucked it from a curbside junk heap in Springfield, Missouri and safeguarded it for the next 36 years. Today, the pages of Deeds’ Talisman Album are carefully separated, conserved and displayed throughout the world with their beauty and poignancy intact, and will now be displayed in Springfield – where their journey began.

Art Inspired presents this exhibit to encourage visitors to recognize the true extent of community. Despite the tremendous advances in the past four decades, limitations of laws and regulations, poor enforcement of the laws, limited funding of programs and societal prejudices keep many people with disabilities from being fully included in our society. Mr. Deeds’ work provides a window into the experiences of people with disabilities and an opportunity to encounter the similarities, differences and the inherent humanity shared by all people.

Talisman of the Ward: The Album of Drawings by Edward Deeds opens on Friday, March 7, First Friday Art Walk and runs through Monday, March 31, 2014. Art Inspired is located at 310 S. Campbell in Springfield, Missouri.  www.artinspired.me


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