Tim Ortiz and Andreana Donahue are the co-founders and co-writers of Disparate Minds, an ongoing interdisciplinary project dedicated to discussing the work of marginalized self-taught artists in an art historical and contemporary context. Through their research, writing, lectures, and curatorial projects, Donahue and Ortiz share insight informed by many years of experience in this field as practicing artists, artist facilitators, dedicated disability rights advocates, and most significantly in building and co-managing a studio for eighty self-taught artists with developmental disabilities in Nevada. They spent 2015 as Artists-In-Residence in Alaska, focused on their own studio practices while also implementing progressive facilitation methods and contemporary practices in an integrated studio in Juneau. Disparate Minds is the recipient of a Puffin Foundation Grant and AWB Harnisch Foundation Grant. Donahue and Ortiz have maintained ongoing professional and creative collaborations since 2011. Recent curatorial projects include Storytellers at LAND in Brooklyn and Mapping Fictions: Daniel Green, William Scott, Roger Swike, and Joe Zaldivar at The Good Luck Gallery in LA.
Our intention is to document, demystify, and raise awareness about progressive art studios in order to articulate a greater understanding of their true nature and importance. We aim to present the work of these self-taught artists accurately in the context of contemporary art in order to advocate for criticism and eliminate the sympathetic viewer in the experience and evaluation of these works. Over 25 studios across the US will be visited and documented over the course of this project, in addition to exhibition reviews and and in-depth artist essays. This endeavor is inspired by the understanding these studios aren’t just excellent places for artists living with disabilities to pursue fine art practices, but that they’re uniquely important as relevant creative institutions in their respective communities and cultural forces globally. These studios should be considered a necessary component of any support system for this population; there’s no greater way for these artists to achieve value and integration in their communities. We strive to cultivate a deeper understanding of how these studios function while highlighting shared challenges and fostering discussion in favor of a more resolved and sustainable model.
Andreana Donahue (born 1981 in Chicago, IL) is an artist, art handler, and independent curator who earned a BFA in painting and sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has organized and exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in Alaska, Chicago, Iceland, Los Angeles, NYC, Nevada, and Miami. Donahue’s project-based practice engages with various disciplines and concepts, but reflects an ongoing investigation of simulacra and transforming everyday materials through labor-intensive processes; her site-attentive installations highlight connections between outwardly unrelated narratives while transmitting a sense of loss, longing, and superstition. Recent artist residencies include the Wagon Station Encampment at A-Z West in Joshua Tree, The Icelandic Textile Center, SIM in Reykjavik, 100 West Corsicana in Texas, and the Vermont Studio Center. Donahue is the recipient of a 2018 Nevada Arts Council Fellowship and 2015 Puffin Foundation and AWB/Harnisch Foundation grants for Disparate Minds. Visit her website here.
Tim Ortiz (born 1985 in Burlington, VT) is a painter and writer. Ortiz’s training was in traditional landscape painting and Contemporary Photorealism. Presently, his work reflects a commitment to the practice of painting from a minimalist perspective - seeking the absolute through the deconstruction of mark-making, while rendering space and form in an abstract context. Ortiz began working with adults living with developmental disabilities in 2008, spending 2 years working with a caseload of over 100 individuals as a case manager for a job training program before joining Andreana in a progressive art studio. He has also developed art programming for Special Education and High School students with Autism, and spent one year creating and providing weekly art-making sessions for seniors in a psychiatric hospital. He is currently a certified nurse aid and a home and community-based personal care provider for adults with developmental disabilities. Ortiz is the recipient of a 2015 Puffin Foundation Grant and AWB/Harnisch Foundation Grant for Disparate Minds.