Giving Artists With Disabilities a Space to Thrive

Giving Artists With Disabilities a Space to Thrive

(gentle music) – I remember my first experience of seeing this amazing production of art that was different than what I had seen and it was such a personal expression by the person making it. They may or may not have had language, they may or may not been
able to communicate with me, but they’re making this work. That’s really a window into their soul. When you ask someone
who’s been disenfranchised their entire life to tell me your story it’s amazing how the door opens. (upbeat violin music) Creative Growth Art Center
is the oldest and largest center for artists with
disabilities in the world. When we were founded, the
idea of disability, then, was so radically different
than what it is now. We didn’t come out of a hospital setting or we didn’t come out of a
vocational training program, we came out of some
artists getting together, in a home in Oakland, putting
paint on a table in the garage and just saying, this is what artists do, and this is how we can
change the social fabric. From those, kind of, humble beginnings, we now serve 162 artists with disabilities in our studio, every week. It’s a very big space. Within that, you’ll find almost
every possible expression of visual art. You’ll see the rug making
area, the wood shop, the ceramic studio, the fashion area, the painting and drawing area and everyone’s working together and everyone can see each other. It’s different than most places and some people don’t believe it. Some people think, like,
you must have doctors and you must have all these other things and how do you deal with
the studio everyday. It’s like, no, you know, art is the common language. And a lot of our folks
don’t verbalize or speak or they speak sign language, but art is the language
that moves us forward. – This is called the
Oil Red Sea Number One. Red is the only color I can see. – [Tom] You look at work of
an artist like Dan Miller, ya know, he’s pretty much non-verbal. His mother tried to encourage him to speak by telling him how to spell
words when he was a boy, every night, and never spoke them until he started to draw them. – A light goes click, click, click. – [Tom] Look at an artist
like Monica Valentine, she takes pins and she takes
sequins and colored beads, and she strings those together on the pin and she puts them into styrofoam forms to form these optically
charged sculptures. When you realize that
Monica has prosthetic eyes and can’t see color or see anything, it moves into this whole other range. We want their own voice,
we want it as pure and personalized as it can be. And 45 years later, it continues to work. How’s that building coming along, Pete? – Slowly.
– It’s looking good. The record of success
that Creative Growth has is phenomenal, it’s off the charts in terms of what an art school or any other, sort of, enterprise would consider to be acceptable. We have three artists with work
in the Museum of Modern Art permanent collection in New York, in the San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art collection. And, this year, we have
the first two people with developmental disabilities, they have work in the Venice Bienalle. The Venice Bienalle is the
most important, prestigious, by invitation-only
exhibition in the world. Their work is sought after. Ya know, a piece is done,
and there’s a waiting list. Rosina, I haven’t even said
hello to you, yet, today. How are you?
– Good. – To be able to work at a place like this is beyond anything I had hoped for. I get to work with
phenomenally talented people, and to see how they
negotiate the day everyday, how they get around obstacles,
how they continue to say yes, when everyone is telling them no, that’s an amazing thing. That’s a life lesson I get
reminded of every single day. (gentle music)

100 thoughts on “Giving Artists With Disabilities a Space to Thrive

  1. dislike ratio is at 420. nobody wants to disturb a perfect 420. the number, not the dislikes. i dont get why people dislike?? this is so wholesome?? I love the idea!

  2. This is why I don't agree with people who put down modern art. Yes some of it is pretentious bs but not all of it.
    From this video you can clearly see that these abstract paintings are an expression of emotion. Some of the paintings are just squiggly lines of paint and yet it conveys a feeling.
    This form of expression isn't limited to people with disabilities. Anyone can express themselves in this way and have it be perfectly legitimate.

  3. Hi, this is a formal message;the shape of my eyes are really bad, and the rods and cones within my corneas suck, but I don't want glasses nor contacts and yet cannot afford, "Laser eye surgery" I need your help…

  4. I go to a school for people who need extra help (I'm a student)

    I only go there due to anxiety and depression making it hard to learn

    But there is a lot of stuff I learned and one thing is that people with disabilities (mentally or physically) have a tendency to be great artists and are extremely creative.


  6. What a joy to see! Every one of us has gifts to share, and I'm fascinated by how interwoven humanity is, all of us sharing what God gave us. Everyone is valuable, and precious.

  7. my mom she works for the disability center and the people are divided ones who needs most help and others that dont need that much help i had this thing at my school it was to go to work with someone you know that does what you love and i like art and singing so basically i know nobody sadly but its fine anwayss
    when i went work with her i saw that the people who didnt need as much help were really bored i was with the people who need more help than the others btw. so i thought maybe i go out and draw with them i couldn't TwT there was a guy trying to touch my hair he kept staring at me my mom said its like sexual harassment or something idk i ended up drawing something and there was the women she was staring at me while i drew so my mom asked me if i wanted to draw on the windows with markers when i was finished the woman was smiling a couple other people came over to watch it was very fun though i ended up playing ball with the people i did get hit tho but was only a tiny scratch TwT

  8. There's nothing more beautiful than seeing someone having fun doing whatever it is they're doing, with a smile on their face.

  9. I'm an artist and art therapist, and I'd love to set up a similar centre in Europe, Fance. Have tried years ago, but, seems our system is so archaic and conventional, and handicaped people are 'safely' hidden away… Mind sets have to change drastically…. Thx for sharing. 💖👏

  10. I was born with Aspergers Syndrome, a spot on the Autism Spectrum. I may be high functioning, but I was always expressive with my art when I can’t properly understand and interact socially with other and scared to speak how I feel. Art gave me an outlet that I love and want to continue for my life as a career, a passion! I hope other learn from this and smile knowing that though all people with disabilities have an issue, they aren’t alone, and they are just as human as the normal people who see themselves above us with disabilities and see that we can be just as contributive to the world as they can! I grew up with my mom working in the field with people with disabilities and grew up knowing an old man with Down Syndrome and he was family to me. I learned a disability is just a disconnection to a normal function of the mind or body and there are ways to work around it. I’m proud to be in this community because I learned that the true hearted people are those who have an issue that sets them apart, and those people have hearts of gold. seeing this kind of facility makes me smile ear to ear as there is so many happy people with any form of disability, mental, physical, and developmental just so happy to express in way no one could ever fully teach them before!

  11. I think this should get more attention, it’s amazing that people are creating theses kind of things, and when I grow up, I would love to help people, and maybe create art too!! By the way, all the people in this video are so freakin cute! >.<

  12. Hi my name is Ally Martin and I have a disability called cerebral palsy and I love and communicate through art. It gives me a sense of calm and peace, I feel like I can completely forget about how stressful life can be. And remember how amazing it can be and the possibilities because the possibilities are endless in the world of art. Can someone please tell me how I can get here. I want to become apart of this beautiful community and family.

  13. To be honest They are soo good and they are better than the artists I know and the fact that they are special makes me cryy

  14. OK – I can see if one or two or maybe three of these disabled artists lucked up and was talented in art – BUT ALL OF THEM??? I can't even believe what I am watching right now. There was not ONE piece I saw in this video that could not be considered modern art – all of them could be in a gallery or sold commercially. LIKE, HOW???? Trained artists struggle with finding their voice on a blank page and second guess their ideas all the time. Yet these artists just produce – without formal training – their voice SHOUTS in whatever media they choose. That is incredible. Thank you for creating a space for them. And for the larger art community for recognizing that TALENT has no label or disability. True art is the voice that can be heard without words and the picture that can be seen without eyes. I am astounded by these artists. It's time for me to level up like them!

  15. Art is not a activity that you do to show off to people, but it's a activity where you are able to Express your feelings, ideas, emotions, etc. This is what o love about painting I express my ideas express my emotions and I just love it and feel free.

  16. who ever thumb downed this video is a horrible person. But god bless everyone including the people who made this video and the people in it.

  17. This almost made me cry. As and artist of many different forms of art this is inspiring, all of these people have a disadvantage at things most of us don’t but yet they can make things that are absolutely outstanding to look at. Art really is the most beautiful language

  18. this brought actual tears to my eyes…… art is truly a universal language; spoken by the mute and seen by the blind ..its incredible

  19. Its so empowering to see that modern society may have some kindness and goodness inside of us

    My favorite artist was Mrs. Monica Valentine, with her amazing blocks of color

  20. Congratulations to Noah Throop and the Great Big Story team for snagging the Emmy for so artfully telling this beautiful story.

  21. This video was BEAUTIFUL. ❤️ I have a friend who is severely autistic, but loves to draw. For her birthday, we all saved up our money to buy her some very nice colored pencils (my school is poor). She began to cry and thanked all of us and made everyone’s day to see her that happy. Love you Audrey!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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