Filed under Alumni

Alum’s Outsider Art Project

Clare Conniff’s Post-Grad ’11 Project

My whole life I have watched my grandfather, Jim Conniff, create weird and

Jim Conniff

wacky, but beautiful, art. When I was young I just thought of it as something he did for fun. I never realized how truly wrong I was until my last semester at Bard, when I took a course entitled “Outsider Art” with Susan Aberth. In the class Susan taught us about artists, usually termed outsider, folk, naïve, or visionary, that were removed from the accepted art world. The separation could be compulsory, as for artists in mental asylums or prisons, or it could be self-imposed. I spent most classes thinking about how much everything Susan was teaching us seemed applicable to my grandfather, who is now 91 years old, and his art. After graduation, I began to look more closely at my grandfather’s work. After he finished a piece, he would place it somewhere in his home, and for the most part, they remained wherever he put them, gathering dust, and, in some cases, breaking, until I started poking around. I took some pictures, asked him some questions, and eventually decided that I needed to do something about the rapid and ongoing decay of the art that had been sitting around his house for decades.

In order to raise money to preserve Jim’s art, I have started a fundraising campaign on a website called Kickstarter, a platform for funding creative projects through many small donations from varied sources. I am trying to raise funds in order to preserve Jim’s art. With the donations I receive, I will repair and clean the pieces, catalogue them, create a book, and interview Jim on camera. You can view my Kickstarter campaign at and read more about the project at The Kickstarter closes on January 22, and if I haven’t reached my goal of $5000, I will not receive any of the donations. Please check out my project and consider supporting it in whatever way you are able. Whether that means donating $10, $100, or just simply passing on the link to someone you think might be interested, thank you. I truly appreciate any help you can give me.