Last week, as part of the East Vancouver Culture Crawl, I was invited to give a talk about Outsider Art.
The place that invited me to do this talk is The Kettle Society, an organization that has the mandate to serve people with a mental health diagnosis. When I was an Expressive Arts therapy student, did one of my practicums at The Kettle, and I loved it.
I loved the inspiration and truthfulness that the clients brought to the group. I loved their willingness to participate and experience art in new ways, without questioning my methods or their own ability. There was no “ego” involved in their art making; it was raw and real like that of a small child.
At the Culture Crawl I talked about the fact that we are all born artists. I read a survey that asked children ages 3, 4 and 5 whether they could sing, dance, draw and paint. All children, 100% of them responded YES!
The survey continued over time, and when the children were 6, 7 and 8, their responses chad changed. To the same question of whether they could sing, dance, draw or paint, they all responded NO.
What happened in this critical period? Well… school happened. Children began to be told that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to do the things they so spontaneously did before, and they stopped doing those things.
So, what is Outsider Art? it is a term coined by the people “in” the art world to described those that do not know the “right” methods or techniques, that do not know art history, and didn’t study art in a formal way.
While school and the left side of the brain – the rational side – would want to convince us that there is a measure of imagination, creativity and expression, that there is a “right” way to investigate the self, Outsider Art doesn’t care a bit what the art world says.
Outsider Art is having the courage to create, having the courage to express oneself despite the whole world telling us we do not know how to do it.
Outsider Art is revolutionary, it is daring, it is raw and real like the art of children before they go to school. As a society we need Outsider Art; it shows us that there is a value in creating and that we are allowed to do it. And it definitely is the antidote to the hyper-rational, ultra-calculated, non-personal conceptual art that seems to be a trend in the art world right now.
I got very good feedback from my talk.