Skip to main content

James A. McGrath papers, 1950-2011

McGrath, James A., 1928-

Art teacher, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 5.4 Linear feet

Summary: 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. Letters from Wiley to McGrath span several decades and provide details about his artwork, family, and travels.
James McGrath's papers regarding his artist's residencies and workshops are currently unprocessed.
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, art work 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.

Biographical/Historical Note

Arts educator James A. McGrath was a high school art teacher at Columbia High School in Richland, Washington where he taught William T. Wiley in the mid-1950s. They remained life-long friends. Later, McGrath worked at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe as Director of Arts, Professor of Painting, and Dean. In 1973 he became Director of Arts, Humanities and Culture in the Department of Defense and was stationed in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Taiwan and the Philippines. He also worked for the United States Information Agency in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Republic of the Congo. He continues to be active as an arts education specialist.


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.

Related Materials