We started this blog as a way to increase visibility for artists who deserve even more recognition. We feature the work of self-taught artists, female-identifying artists, artists of color, LGBTQ artists, neurodivergent artists, disabled artists, and artists working beyond the mainstream art world. We also showcase artists using unconventional materials and found objects to create their work. Ranging from small-scale paintings to large sculpture parks. 

We believe that all artists should have an equal voice in the arts and be recognized for their talent regardless of their level of art education, financial privilege, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, race, or (dis)ability.

This blog was also created in hopes of reaching all kinds of people, whether you are a professional artist or someone interested in learning more about art. We believe that art should be accessible. We are not here to critique or write lengthy academic discourses. Although we are interested in those areas of discussion, we believe that there are already many people successfully writing from that perspective, and therefore we are simply here to celebrate art and let the artists speak for themselves, and we often use quotes from artists to describe the work.

Below are examples of topics featured in our posts:

  • Artists working with non-traditional materials, such as toothpicks, bottle caps, fabric, or recyclables.
  • Unusual places and architecture, such as houses made out of bottles or mosaic sculpture gardens.
  • Studio art programs supporting neurodiverse artists.
  • Female-identifying artists, non-binary artists, trans artists
  • Art by self-taught artists (see below).

We have included a few key terms used on this blog:

Self-taught artist/art: The American Folk Art Museum defines self-taught art as artists “whose inspiration emerges from unsuspected paths and unconventional places, giving voice to individuals who may be situated outside the social mainstream.” For the purposes of this blog, we use self-taught art to refer to artists who may not have formal art training due to financial barriers or other circumstances. However, they may have professional training in other areas (such as science or journalism) but taught themselves how to draw, paint, or sculpt and/or arrived at art making later in life. 

Humans have been creating art in some form for as long as we have existed. It recently became more of an elite process limited to those who can afford access to art education, expensive materials, and have the right connections to help promote themselves. Also, some artists that we know are not comfortable with the self-promotion required to become a professional artist. We are here for them, too!

Progressive Art Studio: A studio that focuses on artists with disabilities, including intellectual/developmental disabilities or invisible disabilities like individuals with mental illnesses. These studios are supportive environments that provide support services to the artists in order to help them develop their artistic careers and gain other life skills. Examples: Project Onward in Chicago or Creative Growth in California or Bomb Diggity Arts in Portland, ME.

Art Environment: Art Environments range from houses made with unusual materials to eccentric sculpture gardens. Many of the artists featured here use discarded objects and found materials to create their environments. Well-known examples of art environments include Simon Rodia’s Watts Tower, Tom Every’s Forevertron, and Nek Chand’s Rock Garden of Chandigarh.

Outsider art: We find this term to be controversial and try to avoid using it. But it is important to acknowledge the term. Intuit (an amazing non-profit in Chicago) defines outsider art as ““the work of artists who demonstrate little influence from the mainstream art world and who are, instead, motivated by their unique personal visions. In some cases, it can be a spiritual calling or obsessive desire to create art.

Many of these artists are beginning to gain well-deserved recognition in the mainstream art world. However, as this continues, the term “outsider art” is becoming controversial or perhaps obsolete. Some prefer to use the terms: self-taught art, visionary art, or non-traditional art instead. Raw Vision Magazine explains: “[some] artists are already pushed to the outer limits of society as a result of prejudice and feel [these] term offers more dignity.”

Examples of well-known outsider artists include: Henry Darger, Lee Godie, and Martín Ramírez.