Center for Creative Works Attends Exclusive Outsider Art Fair Despite Obstacles

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From March 3-6, RHD’s Center for Creative Works (CCW) participated in the prestigious Outsider Art Fair, hosted at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan, NY. This premier annual event, historically held in New York since 1993, is dedicated to Outsider Art, Self-Taught Art, and Art Brut – generally referred to as unconventional art created by self-taught and often neurodivergent artists.

This year, the fair returned to its original location, following last year’s COVID-related decision to spread the fair across different locations in New York. Despite the delays and changes, the event was a success. CCW’s director Lori Bartol reported, “It went really well. It definitely seemed like everyone was really happy with attendance. The atmosphere was very festive. People were really happy to be able to do something like this.”

This was CCW’s fifth year at the fair. Bartol says their association with the fair began “through a supporter who made a connection to a person running the fair. We set up an appointment to meet with her.”

Bartol and CCW’s Arts and Exhibitions Coordinator, Samantha Mitchell gave a presentation displaying their artists’ work on an iPad, which led to CCW’s acceptance to the fair. “And once you’re accepted, you get reinvited.”

CCW provides several services for artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The artists receive skill-based training from the mentor artists on staff; they gain experience and learn about exhibiting and selling their work.

This year, five CCW artists exhibited art at the fair. Doug Tan creates large-scale abstract works “with lots of layering of different materials. His work is very energetic,” says Bartol. He also has work hanging at MIT and the offices of Broadcom in California. Allen Yu, a new CCW artist, joined remotely during the COVID pandemic. His work features detailed repetitive drawings of sandwiches, bananas, plants, and other items. “His work was insanely popular at the event and sold out,” says Bartol. Cindy Gosselin is a blind artist who wraps small handheld pieces in fibers, thread, yarn, or other materials. Clyde Henry displayed mixed media drawings of animals. His works have “beautiful atmosphere,” says Bartol. And lastly, Paige Donovan exhibited needlepoint landscapes.

CCW’s exhibits at the fair received a rave review from the online art publication Hyperallergic’s Arthur app.