When I first encountered the album of drawings in 2006 by the then-anonymous artist I dubbed “The Electric Pencil,” there was no back-story, only art powerful enough for me to devote myself to discovering its creator’s identity and presenting his work to the world.
In the half-decade that followed, critical acknowledgment, academic study and museum showings have enhanced the reputation of James Edward Deeds Jr., whose drawings are collected in The Electric Pencil: Drawings from Inside State Hospital No. 3. Yet, it’s the tale of how the album was twice miraculously rescued from loss and destruction, and how the need to create art, even in the most adverse situation—a mental institution—that triumphs.
Harris Diamant is a New York-based sculptor and collector.