Mental Contours III. – Lines of Force | Artinbox Gallery, Czech Republic

An exhibition prepared in cooperation with with Creative Growth Art Center and with the support of American Embassy:

Mental Contours III. – Lines of Force

October 15 – November 11, 2014 

Continuation of the project Mental contours – this time american artists working with fonts, character, lines…

15. 10. 2014
8 p.m.

John Martin
Laura Jo Pierce
Dwight Mackintosh
Dan Miller
Donald Mitchell
William Tyler
Merritt Walace

Curated by:
Terezie Zemánková
Nadia Rovderová
Ivana Brádková

Creative Growth Art Centre operating in Oakland, California (USA) is one of the oldest studios in the world focused on the development of art talent of artists with mental illness and mental handicap. It is attended regularly by nearly 200 clients. The studio is not focused on art therapy – there work professional artists, whose task is to encourage the local creators in the search for their own artistic expression. That is also why many exceptional artists who have achieved international fame came from here. A number of them are represented in both public and private collections of art brut, some authors (including Dan Miller) are even presented in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

We are proud that we were able to bring to the Artinbox Gallery an exclusive selection of seven artists and bring forward further evidence of the unique aesthetics, imagination, colour and graphic combinatorics, and the power of shared emotions, which art brut artists possess.

The exhibition Mental Contours III. – Lines of Force was prepared with the support of the American Embassy.

Our thanks also go to the Director of Creative Growth, Tom di Maria, and his colleague, Gaela Fernández.

Welcome to Creative Growth.  We are the oldest and largest independent art center in the world dedicated to the idea that all people – regardless of disability – can be creative if offered an opportunity to express themselves.

Our story is interesting. To understand fully who we are you must know a bit about history – specifically American and California history from the 1960s and 1970s.  At that time, it was considered normal for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities to be placed in hospitals and institutions, where they would spend their lives outside of mainstream society – leading often sad and private lives in conditions that were sometimes dismal.

Creative Growth is located in Oakland, California, just across the Bay from its sister city San Francisco. These cities were the center of significant social change many decades ago. The late 1960’s and early 1970’s marked a time of cultural revolution in America – the creation of the free speech movement at the University of Berkeley, the rise of Hippie culture, anti-war protests, a reaction to tradition, the explosion of rock music, and the famous Summer of Love. 

These new ideas led to many changes in our society, including a re-thinking of how people with disabilities might live in the world. Because of these new ideas, the State of California made a decision to close the institutions where people with disabilities lived, and sought to have them become active participants in the communities from where they came.

Creative Growth’s founders – Elias and Florence Katz – were artists and dreamers who asked the question – what will these people do when they leave the hospitals?  Creative Growth’s answer was founded on the idea that creativity is an inherent human form of expression, and that if offered the opportunity, art could serve as a link between the people who lived in institutions, and the new world they were being exposed to.

Our program started with paint on a table in our founders’ own home. Day after day, the program grew into what is now a 6-day a week program, serving nearly 200 artists with disabilities in a large two floor industrial building in Oakland.

We have a specific philosophy in our work – support creation, don’t direct it. Our entire staff is artists, as we believe that artists can be the most supportive part of the artistic process.  Not imposing ideas, but encouraging individuals to find their own path to creativity.

As Creative Growth has grown, our artists have grown with us.  We are delighted that the only three artists with developmental disabilities in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York are Creative Growth artists:  Dan Miller, William Scott and Judith Scott.

What is most compelling for me however, is the approach that our artists take towards art making.  It is a process driven practice where communicating aesthetically, and asking questions, have as much value as the object created as a result of this work.

The objects that are created in the studio are interesting to viewers, and offer us a perspective on the lives of our artists and how they view the world around them.

What you are seeing here in Prague is a result of the efforts – a communicative link between artist and viewer.  While every Creative Growth artist’s work is unique there is a commonality that they all explore what it means to be human, and how we each interpret what it means to be a part of the world we share.

Presenting our artists work in Prague is an honor for us, and we are deeply appreciative of the opportunity to have this exhibition in the Czech Republic for the first time.  I hope that the passion, aesthetic power and strong voice of the artist isone you can hear in their work…as if it has traveled directly to you from the other side of the world.

Tom di Maria
Director of Creative Growth Art Center
Oakland California, September 2014

Artinbox Gallery
Perlová 370/3, Dům v Kisně
110 00 Praha 1 – Staré Město
Czech Republic

 tel: +420 777 748 433