Tim Ortiz and Andreana Donahue are the founders of Disparate Minds, an ongoing interdisciplinary project that discusses the work of marginalized self-taught artists accurately 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 encourage and 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, accompanied by exhibition reviews and essays featuring specific artists from each studio. 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 powerful and important as relevant creative institutions in their respective communities and positive cultural forces globally. Progressive art 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 curated and exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in Alaska, California, Chicago, Nevada, Miami, and South Carolina. Donahue’s project-based practice engages a wide range of methods and concepts, while reflecting an ongoing investigation of labor-intensive processes and simulacra. By highlighting connections between outwardly unrelated disciplines, historical events, and narratives, her site-determined installations form a hybrid lexiconDonahue is the recipient of a 2015 AWB/Harnisch Foundation Grant and 2015 Puffin Foundation Grant for Disparate Minds, 2016 residency at 100 West in Texas, 2014/2016 Nevada Arts Council Professional Development Grants, 2014 Artist Grant/Residency from the Vermont Studio Center, and 2011/2015 NAC Jackpot Grants. 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.