Visions from the Edge: An Exploration of Outsider Art

March 19 - June 13, 2016

Outsider Art refers to work made by self-taught artists situated geographically or culturally on the margins of mainstream society. Celebrated for its originality and expressive power, the genre encompasses a broad range of work by those living “on the edge.” The best Outsider Art, whatever its specific form may be, is characterized by a unique vision, innovative technique, and deeply powerful creative expression.

The works selected for this exhibit were made by individuals whose artistic impulses emerge from their personal experiences with autism and other developmental disorders. They exemplify the strength, variety, and individuality of Outsider Art—from evocative drip paintings to whimsical fairy tale images, folk art depictions to dramatic cubist expressions, arresting landscapes to meticulously articulated transformations of reality, personal narratives to fluid portraits and imaginative representations of city life. Carefully crafted and presented in a museum setting, the works challenge the term “outsider,” for they clearly exist within, and add to, the richness and diversity of mainstream art.

This exhibit is testament to a robust network of institutions and individuals dedicated to nurturing and promoting the talents and visionary sensibilities of Outsider Artists. Progressive studio programs such as Pure Vision Arts in New York City and the College Internship Program’s Good Purpose Gallery in Lee, Massachusetts, provide studio space, art materials, exhibition opportunities, and career training for Outsider Artists, including many of those featured in this exhibit. Educational initiatives, such as the Jessica Park Project at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts, provide additional opportunities for the general public to learn about Outsider Art and Artists. Finally, patrons and collectors who support artists directly with purchases and often loan artworks for exhibits play a vital role in affording Outsider Art and Artists the recognition they so richly deserve.

— Tony Gengarelly, PhD, Curator