The ethics of collecting works by artists with intellectual disabilities

“I understand the need for the art world to categorize works of art made by people whose creative process does not stem from an MFA or BFA,” Meyer said. “It’s an outdated term, but I also understand it’s a way for the art world to understand what’s going on.” Creative Growth participates in Outsider Art Fairs, she noted, and collectors “run the gamut” depending on whether they gravitate towards art brut, art brut or contemporary art – or all of the above. . At last month’s independent art fair in New York City, for example, one of William Scott’s paintings for sale in Creative Growth’s display was purchased by, the hugely popular contemporary artist (and collector of outsider art).

Ultimately, said Meyer, collectors are drawn to the work itself. “It is first and foremost the work of art itself that captures people,” she said. “It’s unusual, or vibrant, or something that really speaks to them. The aesthetic of the work appeals to people. And then once they sort of learn who the artist is and what creative growth is, that can also turn into longer term support for that artist’s career and the organization. [Collectors] I also like the fact that we share the sale with each artist, that they directly support the work of that artist.

Higgs, who said he always finds the term “outdoor art” useful, acknowledged that it becomes problematic when an outside artist is presented as someone who “is divorced or isolated from normal mainstream social life.” Creative Growth artists, he noted, work in a common space among other active artists. The archetype of the foreign artist is cliché, he continued, and ignores the various ways in which self-taught artists and artists with intellectual disabilities work.

“I’m not opposed to the term ‘exterior art’ because I think it’s just a way of recognizing the difference,” Higgs explained. “One of the things we need to do more is to support difference and support artists who have unconventional stories, artists who historically may not have had access to them.”

Meyer and Higgs both highlighted the quality of work of artists with intellectual disabilities as the main motivator for collectors. “Because they are self-taught artists and considered to be widely emerging in the contemporary art world, there is an attraction to discovery,” said Meyers. “[Collectors] are just taken by the artwork.

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