Paper Magazine, “Pure Fashion”

Kim Hastreiter.
September, 2007.

Pure Fashion: Fashion becomes magic when you look at it through outsider eyes.

I first stumbled onto an off-the-beaten-track spot called Creative Growth Art Center 15 years ago. I’d been visiting San Francisco with a party-hardy crew from Paper when my friend Ben dragged me to Oakland early one morning promising to show me something that would amaze me. Still yawning from partying late the night before, we crossed the Oakland Bridge and pulled up to a nondescript brick building. What I saw when I walked through the doors jolted me awake. The large room was filled with an extremely diverse group of mentally disabled characters who were all working away intensely at making art. The walls were covered with an explosion of their creations that drew me in like a magnet. I came up for air five hours later–after sifting though hundreds of mind-blowing paintings, drawings and sculptures–only to realize that my notion of art had changed forever.

The word “handicapped” is often defined as “working with less,” but the art at Creative Growth seems to indicate the opposite­­–these artists appear to be working with more of everything: more freedom, more imagination, and most of all, more truth. Their handicaps may have forced them to live in a world outside of and very different from ours, but these “outsider” artists are no less brilliant then those deemed by our society as “normal” (those noted as intelligent, clever, on-trend or tasteful). All art is experiential and draws on the lives and realities of its creators and these artists are no different. With normalcy and logic redefined by their personal views of the world, their imagination soars to extraordinary places, enabling them to express ideas free of deceit, pretense, agendas or societal constraints. The result is art that’s as pure as it gets.

I thought it would be wonderful and appropriate for this issue celebrating art and fashion to invite some of the most amazing artists from Creative Growth to illustrate and interpret some of our favorite fashion looks for the new season. How can anyone not love seeing this world we call fashion­–which is usually such an insider’s game–so purely and gorgeously through the eyes of these magical outsiders? Enjoy.