Circle Contemporary, the only Chicago space dedicated to integrated programming, has consistently offered ambitious and thoughtful group exhibitions since its founding early last year. Curated by Corrie Thompson, Mysterious Feelings brings together a highly varied selection of Chicago-based artistsRead More
Byron Smith’s Cover Girls offers earnest and adoring tributes to glamorous movie, TV, and music industry icons. Smith’s drawings are typified by a hyperbolic allure, with an archetypal framework revealed collectively throughout the portrait series; this becomes most evident in simplified yet distinctive feminine features - elongated eyelashes radiating outward from almond-shaped lids, cherry red lacquered fingernails and lips, pronounced cupid’s bows, and wide, toothy grins....Read More
Disparate Minds co-founders Tim Ortiz and Andreana Donahue discuss current concerns at the intersection of art and disability studies while highlighting neurodivergent artists’ contributions to the contemporary art discourse...Read More
From the initial mark placed on a blank page, the artist is laid bare. As Philip Guston said, that first mark is necessarily destructive. The pristine blank page is perfect and once marked is ruined and only saved when the artist finds a way, through magic, to transform it into something better than before. The artist leads the way into the unknown, owning the details of each choice. To mark a blank page becomes a tremendous proposition and responsibility, to set out without direction and asking the viewer to follow.Read More
As a painter, thinker, and self-described “indigenous male earthling of the United States of America”, Wilmington-based artist Carl Bailey explores concepts with a sense of wonder.
Never driven by the consensus narrative, he is only concerned with primary sources -
artworks and their respective artists, their relationship to time and place, and discovering their universal humanity...
If you participate in donating to important causes this holiday season, we extend our annual reminder to keep your local progressive art studio in mind. Studios facilitating the creative practices of fantastic artists that we discuss depend on the support of their local communities in the form of both patronage and charitable giving. These invaluable programs depend largely on Medicaid funding and now more than ever rely directly on you as continued government support is increasingly uncertain.
Of course these studios are also places to find incredible holiday gifts. Visiting and collecting works of art that you love to live with is a powerful way to integrate disability (disparate thinking) into your life in a personal and authentic way. If there’s a progressive art studio in your community, you'll almost certainly find some of the most original and remarkably affordable local art is being created there. Alternatively, you can now purchase many artists’ work online, such as Sarah Malpass at NIAD, Evelyn Reyes at Creativity Explored, or Larry Pearsall of DAC on Amazon. Please refer to our side-bar directory for all studio locations and websites.
If you’re interested in supporting larger organizations that advocate for disability rights on a national scale, this year we offer the following two recommendations:
ADAPT has always been at the forefront of the fight for disability rights even before the ADA. These heroes have been putting their lives and liberty on the line all year to defend Medicaid, crowding the halls of Congress, crashing meetings, and staging sit-ins at the offices of our political leaders - getting arrested and accruing legal fees in the process. ADAPT is still a relatively small organization, but these individuals saved America this year and they need your support.
The ACLU, co-founded by Helen Keller, has always understood disability rights in their most progressive form to be essential civil rights. They have been providing the legal muscle behind this movement at crucial moments - some you may have heard of and others you may not. When the state of Oklahoma sent letters to Medicaid recipients in early November indicating their home care services would be terminated at the end of the month, an ACLU lawsuit sent the state legislature back to work.
Cincinnati-based artist Curtis Davis blurs the boundaries between painting and sculpture, alternating between totemic mixed-media assemblages and large scale panels. Davis’ mysterious abstractions conjure various interpretations, yet curious elements ground the viewer...Read More
Helen Rae, one of the progressive art studio movement's rising stars, currently has recent work on view at White Columns in NYC, marking her first east coast solo exhibition. Rae is quickly emerging as an important figure in this movement; her work is striking, wildly popular, and at 78 years old, her practice is one of great dynamism and momentum.Read More
We recently traveled to MAKE, a Baltimore progressive art studio; Dontavious Woody is one of the artists we were most interested in meeting, struck by his compelling works on paper that convey an enduring fondness for humanity.Read More
Good Vibrations is a vibrant summer exhibition currently on view at Circle Contemporary, the gallery space affiliated with The Arts of Life in Chicago...Read More
Underlying Colors is a striking selection of drawings by one of Latitude Artist Community's most tenured artists, Beverly Baker, who has been supported to maintain a creative practice in their studio since its founding in 2001.Read More
Larry Pearsall is a Los Angeles-based artist who has created an extensive, focused body of work at ECF’s downtown studio for over a decade. Pearsall's paintings have a masterful quality, which can be difficult to access only because of their strangeness and ambiguity; the more his epic narrative is given weight or trusted, the more unsettling it becomes...Read More
Phoebe Rohrbacher is an artist and former facilitator at The Canvas in Juneau, who is currently living and working in Fairbanks, Alaska. A lifelong Alaskan (born and raised in Juneau), Rohrbacher has a unique perspective on art and disability in rural and remote communities...Read More
Marlon Mullen’s second solo exhibition at JTT Gallery is an expansive collection of recent works by this San Francisco-based hero in the progressive art studio movement.Read More
We first encountered Sara Malpass’ work at NIAD in her solo exhibition What Are Words For, and have included her work in our latest curatorial project Storytellers, currently on view at LAND in Brooklyn. Selections by Malpass are featured in this exhibition in order to highlight the important perspective she offers in the discussion of narrative...Read More
Storytellers brings together works anchored in narrative from disabled artists working in progressive art studios across the country, these selections providing an expansive view of manifold and highly original approaches. The pieces featured in this exhibition provide entry points into bodies of work that construct robust narratives, representing ongoing projects and life-long dedications of twelve artists...Read More
Storytellers is a selection of works by artists who reimagine and reinvent the essential practice of telling stories through visual art. Each work represents aspects of a complex personal narrative, glimpses into alternate realities created with diverse materials and processes...Read More
San Francisco-based artist Evelyn Reyes has been diligently creating robust series of minimalist drawings at Creativity Explored for the past 15 years; over this time she has consistently maintained a presence in the contemporary outsider art discourse...Read More
Patrick Hackleman is an artist based in Corvallis, Oregon (near Portland), best known for his highly detailed diagrams and models of ships which strive to improve on historical designs, reaching backwards in time with a humanity and romanticism to avert disasters long past...Read More
Since our recent post-election essay regarding art and disability advocacy, we've received several inquiries about supporting disability rights and national organizations that are working for this cause.
First and foremost, your local progressive art studio is a great place to start; the progressive art studios listed in our directory are primarily small non-profits that depend on the support of their local community to exist. Donating directly to these organizations, attending exhibitions, and buying artwork are great ways to support these studios and this important work. Going to these programs with discerning criticism, and finding works of art that you love to collect and live with is a powerful way to integrate disability (disparate thinking) into your life in a manner that’s personal and authentic. If there’s a progressive art studio in your community, you will almost certainly find that some of the most original and authentic art being made locally is being created in that studio and is remarkably affordable.
Apart from progressive art studios, there are many organizations throughout the country that provide services, research and education, or public policy advocacy. It's often difficult to differentiate between which organizations to endorse and support, because they sometimes espouse regressive ideas and practices. Philosophically, there are many areas where advocates are far from a consensus, and worse, there are non-profits that are actually exploitative; researching an organization's mission and history beforehand is vital.
Two important measures of the quality of a disability service or advocacy organization are:
- How prominently disabled individuals, their ideas, and voices are included in the organization's composition, message, and presentation
- How prominently the organization focuses on inclusion, acceptance, and support services, as opposed to prevention, intervention, or “cures”
Our recommendation on a national scale is to direct your support to an agency advocating for disabled people that is a paragon of these principles and an ideal example of what a disability advocacy effort should embody: the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
Although ASAN’s foundation is specific to Autism, they’re the most progressive disability rights agency of their type and scale in the country that we’re aware of - by and for disabled people, an essential principle expressed in their slogan “nothing about us without us.” Co-founded by dedicated advocate Ari Ne’eman, it’s a fantastic resource for detailed information and news regarding disability advocacy. Donations to ASAN will support public policy advocacy, and disability advocacy education that you can trust to serve the needs of the disabled.
“ASAN advocates specific policy positions on issues of importance to Autistic people and others with disabilities. In so doing, we seek to ensure the meaningful involvement of Autistic individuals in making policy at all levels, to promote a culture of inclusion and respect for all, to enforce the rights of Autistic people to equal opportunity at school and at work, and to improve funding for community services and supports along with research into how they can best be provided.”
Another great project to support is the Disbability Visability Project:
Whereas ASAN focuses on affecting policy, the Disability Visibility Project focuses on activism, media, and affecting culture by publishing stories and organizing conversations - a fierce and ambitious effort to place disability voices at the forefront. Founder Alice Wong explains: