Disability Culture Watch

29 Apr

Creativity Unleashed

I mentioned in the previous post (4/22/09) an art exhibit featuring four disabled artists at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in Chelsea (NYC) (529 West 20 Street – Wheelchair accessible).

I attended a screening at the gallery of the film titled Make about these four artists, Ike Morgan, Royal Robertson, Judith Scott and Hawkins Bolden. Filmmakers Scott Ogden and Malcolm Hearn’s documentary lingers on each of the artists, and we get to see a range of their work over the course of the film. The focus is largely on the artists’ process and it is fascinating. Each has crafted a singular style. Check out the trailer on http://www.makedocumentary.com/ or, if you can, Make has one more screening at the Ricco/Maresca this Saturday evenings May 2 at 6:00pm – RSVP to info@riccomaresca.com. Make reservation immediately – they were turning people away last weekend. The exhibit runs through May 16.

Just some quick comments (time, not interest, limits me):

Three of the artists spent considerable time in institutions. Two of them discovered their art outside of the confines of the institution – spontaneously, creatively and with absolute commitment to the work. The film reveals a largely unexplored aspect of the consequences of confinement and isolation from the community. Denial of culture and of artistic expression are among the pernicious evils of institutionalization.

In the film Make the term “outsider” art is not used to describe these artists. I spoke with Scott Ogden who said that he thinks it is more interesting to not use it and to focus on the artists at work. I agree. Further, I mentioned to him that I appreciated that diagnosis was not overtly mentioned. There are particulars to each artist’s condition/impairments that emerge in the course of the film, but those are more descriptive of their cognitive and sensory processes than a reductive label.

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