From the Margins to the Mainstream: Artists with Disabilities in Contemporary Art

On October 9, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art (HFMA) is pleased to present a lecture with Tom di Maria, the Director of Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, Calif. In his lecture From the Margins to the Mainstream: Artists with Disabilities in Contemporary Art, di Maria will provide a brief history of Outsider Art and discuss the development and growing acceptance of work by artists with disabilities. This lecture is offered in conjunction with the Russell Childers: Oregon Outsider exhibition on view now through Oct. 23 at the HFMA. The lecture will begin at 3 p.m. in the Paulus Lecture Hall (Rm. 201) at the Willamette University College of Law (245 Winter St. SE). This lecture will be preceded by a guided gallery talk of the Russell Childers: Oregon Outsider exhibition at 2 p.m. in the museum’s Study Gallery.

Learn more about the creation and progress of Creative Growth Art Center (CGAC) which opened in 1974 and has played a significant role in increasing public interest in the artistic capabilities and achievements of people with disabilities. In his lecture, di Maria will talk about CGAC's notable artists, including Judith Scott, and how we might come to appreciate the work of Russell Childers (1915-1998) in relation to our evolving view of artists with disabilities.

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Tom di Maria
Tom di Maria has served as Director of Creative Growth Art Center since 2000. He has developed partnerships with museums, galleries and international design companies to help bring Creative Growth's artists with disabilities fully into the contemporary art world. He speaks around the world about the Center’s major artists and their relationship to both Outsider Art and contemporary culture. Prior to his current position, he served as Assistant Director of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive at UC Berkeley. He received his MFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art, in Baltimore, and a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Two Stories of Outsider Artists with Disabilities

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Judith Scott (1943-2005)
Judith Scott was a visual artist isolated from outside influences as a result of the impact of deafness and Down’s syndrome. She was independent and self-directed. The artist was introduced to fiber art in 1987 by artist Sylvia Seventy at CGAC and produced a remarkable, breathtaking body of mixed media sculptures. Roger Cardinal and John MacGregor, internationally known scholars and experts in the field, have both designated Judith an Outsider Artist as her sculptures reflect little cultural input and are highly individualistic, reflecting Judith’s own unique personal vision. Judith’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Collection de l’Art Brut, Switzerland, The American Folk Art Museum, New York, the Museum of Everything, London. Most recently, from October 2014 through March 2015, The Brooklyn Museum, New York, exhibited the first comprehensive retrospective of her work.


Study Gallery and the Maribeth Collins Lobby
July 30 - October 23, 2016

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Russell Childers (1915-1998)
Childers was a self-taught Oregon woodcarver who spent 39 years institutionalized at Oregon Fairview Home in Salem before moving to the Lebanon Rehabilitation Center. While at Fairview in the early 1940s, Childers saw an article about wood carving in “Life Magazine” and was inspired to begin carving. His first carvings were of bears, and he later moved on to other subjects. He was released from Fairview in 1965 to live in Lebanon, Oregon and work at the Willamette Valley Rehabilitation Center – a social services non-profit (still in operation) that provides vocational services to adults with disabilities – until his death in 1998. After his release, he was fitted with hearing aids and began to communicate verbally. As his work evolved, Childers explored autobiographical themes, returning to several of these over the course of his lifetime. While working at the Willamette Valley Rehabilitation Center, his works were recognized by artists, curators, and collectors in the region. This recognition resulted in a traveling exhibition organized by the University of Oregon Museum of Art in 1977, and later inclusion in several group exhibitions on the West coast and gallery representation in Portland during the late 1980s and early 90s.

More about the Russell Childers: Oregon Outsider Exhibition

Financial Support
Financial support for this lecture has been provided by general operating support grants from the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.

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Oct. 9 | 3 p.m. PLEASE NOTE LOCATION CHANGE Free and open to the public

The new lecture location will be the Paulus Lecture Hall (Rm. 201) at the Willamette University College of Law located at 245 Winter St. SE. 

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