Art Enables, a DC non-profit art studio and gallery dedicated to amplifying the careers of artists with disabilities, is excited to announce "Outside Forces" 2021, our 15th annual exhibition highlighting the work of self-taught artists. We look forward to continuing the tradition of this show championing and promoting outsider art and physically exhibiting the work in our gallery again this year.

Please note: this exhibition is not limited to artists with disabilities. If you identify as a self-taught or outsider artist, we’d love to see your work! 

This is a juried exhibition. Individual artists are asked to submit up to five works, and studios up to 15, through our online application with an application fee of $5, which helps us cover the cost of the platform. Please apply via the form below.

The term 'Outsider Art' may call to mind a number of concepts, many that have been historically debated. Defined in the strictest sense, it may include only artists who work in extreme isolation, have little to no contact with other artists and art institutions, and who may not even have a concept of their own work as art. Today, with outsider art gaining popularity and recognition, and under the ever-present influence of the internet, the term is often (sometimes controversially) used more broadly: focusing on self-taught artists without requiring its creators to be completely unaware of art at large. While an exact definition of Outsider Art can be difficult to pin down, one often feels they know it when they see it: inventive work of extreme individuality motivated by the artist’s own personal concepts and desires, rather than the expectations of the mainstream art world. 

Art Enables embraces these more expansive parameters in “Outside Forces,” presenting work by artists who may not have had many opportunities to exhibit. Featured artists include individuals who are emerging and self-taught, are from traditionally underrepresented communities, and those with disabilities. All have paved their own way in the formation of their work, representing personal experiences and interests in individual styles developed outside the conventions of mainstream art education and culture. This exhibition began in 2006 as a way for DC-area groups working with self-taught artists to exhibit together. Over the last 14 years, the exhibition’s success has seen it grow to span all three exhibition spaces at Art Enables, featuring artists from across the nation alongside our resident artists. The show continues to be an excellent introduction for a community curious about outsider art, looking to start their own collection with a selection of affordable work in a wide array of styles.

Important info:
Submission deadline: July 15, 2021
Notification of Acceptance: by August 2, 2021
Artist agreements and high-quality images due: August 9, 2021
Artwork must be received at Art Enables by: August 24, 2021
Exhibition opens: September 11, 2021
Exhibition closes: October 23, 2021

Participating artists will be responsible for all costs of shipping and delivery of artwork both to and from Art Enables. All artwork must be delivered ready to hang.

File size limit for each upload is 10mb. Please submit images with titles that include both the artist's name and the title of the work being submitted. For example: JaneDoe_Painting1.jpg

Questions? Please email