A is for Artist Brings “Outsider Art” Inside
By: Tom Wawzenek
A is for Artist is a new exhibition at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art that challenges the idea of using the label “outsider art” when describing artists who not only lack academic training in art, but who also suffer from neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disabilities.
On display are 100 works by 66 artists who have diverse approaches to creating contemporary art. The art in this exhibition features artists involved with Chicago-area based programs including: The Arts of Life, Esperanza Community Services, Thresholds, and Flying Colors.
Once considered as individuals who required separation from the mainstream, persons with neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders are now being recognized as vital contributors to the diversity of their communities. This exhibition also addresses the division within the creative community where segregation exists between persons who make art through less traditional means and don’t have academic training and those who do have institution-based training in the arts.
But yet, despite this segregation in the art world, there are numerous similarities in the artistic process as well as the finished product between these two groups.
Scott J. Hunter, who curated this exhibition and is also a professor of neuroscience with a specialization in neurodevelopmental disorders at the University of Chicago, said “Too often we segregate people who are different and this is my effort to help show that the artists in this exhibition are not very different from the rest of us. They may have different ways of looking at the world, they may have different abilities, but when given the opportunity they create these amazing works.”