01/20/2012 09:15 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Accidental Artist: Granddaughter Seeks To Save 91-Year-Old's Jim Conniff's Art

Jim Conniff was born in the Bronx in 1920. The 91-year-old man spent his career as a writer and professor, but as the video above shows, that's hardly the whole story.

As the hardworking father of six children, Conniff didn't have much free time. But in those moments, he applied himself to art -- a few doodles in a notebook here and there. It wasn't until his retirement 30 years ago that his latent interest turned into a true artistic passion.

Now, Conniff's artwork covers nearly every inch of his home. The eccentric mixed-media pieces number in the hundreds, and his granddaughter Clare Conniff is seeking to restore and catalog the images. She's funding the project through Kickstarter, but as of press time is a few thousand dollars short of the amount she says she needs to restore the images, catalog them, self-publish a book and conduct a professional interview with her grandfather about his work.

It's a touching story, one made all the more poignant by the fact that Conniff's own family is taking it upon themselves to examine and preserve their patriarch's work.

"I never thought of any of this stuff as art," Conniff says. "I did it because I wanted to do it, I felt like doing it and it was gratifying to accomplish it."


There are a variety of rewards offered for different pledge levels, from a handwritten thank you note to a dinner with Conniff, but we hope you agree that the biggest prize of all would be taking part in cataloging the work of a true outsider artist -- one who doesn't even recognize his own work as art but merely as a set of objects he's created for his own enjoyment and that of his family.

Conniff's granddaughter also runs a Tumblr about her grandfather's art.

Check in on the donations here, and if you're able to, head on over to Kickstarter for even more engaging art projects that need your help.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article indicated that Conniff was 97 years old. He is 91 years old.