Art is a way for people to express themselves, communicate, and even open up new ways of thinking. While these are all positive things, the art world is often one of exclusivity, making it difficult to break into without money, specialized education, and training. While that’s mainly been true throughout history, there has been a movement based on artists who defy standard methods and avenues as they create their art. This had come to be known as outsider art.
What Is Outsider Art?
“Outsider art” is a broad term that can include many different things. Usually, it is used to describe art created by individuals with no connection to the conventional art world. This often means these artists are “outsiders” who are on the margins of art and society. They frequently have no standardized training, are often undereducated, hold unconventional views of the world, resist dominant culture, or are individuals with disabilities.
Generally, whether something is considered outsider art or not comes down to three main things: attitude, access, and opportunity. Usually, outsider art involves artists that don’t have a conventional attitude or understanding of art, don’t have access to conventional training or supplies, or don’t have conventional opportunities to create art. Another major part of outsider art is that the artists primarily create art for themselves, not for other people or with the express intention of selling it. So, what is the value of outsider art?
Why Is Outsider Art Important?
Outsider art is important because it changes what we understand “art”—and the individuals who create it—to be. There’s value in things that are different and not standard. They show us new ways of looking at things and redefine what we thought was possible.
Similarly, creativity doesn’t belong to any particular group. It is something that can be harnessed by anyone, no matter their situation in life. It can sometimes be an outlet for someone or even the only way they are able to communicate and express themselves, especially for people with disabilities. Because of all this, outsider art allows for more inclusivity, which benefits both the artists and the art world.
Art Enables is an art gallery and vocational arts program dedicated to creating opportunities for artists with disabilities to make, market, and earn income from their original and compelling artwork. In addition to earning income from art sales, artists build the skills, relationships, and experience necessary for a successful career in the arts. We offer our artists the creative space, materials, and marketing support they need to develop and succeed as professionals.
We also seek to promote understanding and celebrate the diverse and powerful ways individuals with disabilities can communicate through visual art and why their work is an invaluable part of the broader arts community. You can make a difference in the lives of these artists by making a donation to fund our work, signing up to volunteer, or even purchasing a piece of original work!