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  • (gentle music)

  • - I remember my first experience

  • of seeing this amazing production of art

  • that was different than what I had seen

  • and it was such a personal expression

  • by the person making it.

  • They may or may not have had language,

  • they may or may not been able to communicate with me,

  • but they're making this work.

  • That's really a window into their soul.

  • When you ask someone who's been disenfranchised

  • their entire life to tell me your story

  • it's amazing how the door opens.

  • (upbeat violin music)

  • Creative Growth Art Center is the oldest and largest

  • center for artists with disabilities in the world.

  • When we were founded, the idea of disability, then,

  • was so radically different than what it is now.

  • We didn't come out of a hospital setting

  • or we didn't come out of a vocational training program,

  • we came out of some artists getting together,

  • in a home in Oakland, putting paint on a table in the garage

  • and just saying, this is what artists do,

  • and this is how we can change the social fabric.

  • From those, kind of, humble beginnings,

  • we now serve 162 artists with disabilities

  • in our studio, every week.

  • It's a very big space.

  • Within that, you'll find almost every possible expression

  • of visual art.

  • You'll see the rug making area, the wood shop,

  • the ceramic studio, the fashion area,

  • the painting and drawing area

  • and everyone's working together

  • and everyone can see each other.

  • It's different than most places

  • and some people don't believe it.

  • Some people think, like, you must have doctors

  • and you must have all these other things

  • and how do you deal with the studio everyday.

  • It's like, no, you know, art is the common language.

  • And a lot of our folks don't verbalize or speak

  • or they speak sign language,

  • but art is the language that moves us forward.

  • - This is called the Oil Red Sea Number One.

  • Red is the only color I can see.

  • - [Tom] You look at work of an artist like Dan Miller,

  • ya know, he's pretty much non-verbal.

  • His mother tried to encourage him to speak

  • by telling him how to spell words when he was a boy,

  • every night, and he never spoke them

  • until he started to draw them.

  • - A light goes click, click, click.

  • - [Tom] Look at an artist like Monica Valentine,

  • she takes pins and she takes sequins and colored beads,

  • and she strings those together on the pin

  • and she puts them into styrofoam forms

  • to form these optically charged sculptures.

  • When you realize that Monica has prosthetic eyes

  • and can't see color or see anything,

  • it moves into this whole other range.

  • We want their own voice, we want it as pure

  • and personalized as it can be.

  • And 45 years later, it continues to work.

  • How's that building coming along, Pete?

  • - Slowly. - It's looking good.

  • The record of success that Creative Growth has

  • is phenomenal, it's off the charts

  • in terms of what an art school

  • or any other, sort of, enterprise

  • would consider to be acceptable.

  • We have three artists with work in the Museum of Modern Art

  • permanent collection in New York,

  • in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art collection.

  • And, this year, we have the first two people

  • with developmental disabilities,

  • they have work in the Venice Bienalle.

  • The Venice Bienalle is the most important, prestigious,

  • by invitation-only exhibition in the world.

  • Their work is sought after.

  • Ya know, a piece is done, and there's a waiting list.

  • Rosina, I haven't even said hello to you, yet, today.

  • - How are you? - Good.

  • To be able to work at a place like this

  • is beyond anything I had hoped for.

  • I get to work with phenomenally talented people,

  • and to see how they negotiate the day everyday,

  • how they get around obstacles, how they continue to say yes,

  • when everyone is telling them no,

  • that's an amazing thing.

  • That's a life lesson I get reminded of every single day.

  • (gentle music)

(gentle music)

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A2 US GreatBigStory art click click studio language modern art

Giving Artists With Disabilities a Space to Thrive

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    Samuel posted on 2018/05/19
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