Hello! Welcome to a different version of art history and a space that supports the work of underrepresented artists. This blog was started a few years ago to increase visibility for artists. Some of the best artists are not recognized by the art establishment, and this blog exists to help change that. Thank you for finding us!

Below are examples of topics you may come across on this blog:

  • Artists working with unconventional materials
  • BIPOC artists
  • Women artists, including trans women and femme/feminine-identifying genderqueer, and non-binary artists. 
  • Unusual places and architecture (like houses made out of bottles)
  • Studio art programs supporting the work of disabled artists.
  • Art by self-taught artists

And a few terms you may stumble upon:

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. 

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 provide support services to the artists in order to help them develop their artistic careers and gain other life skills. Examples: Project Onward (Chicago), Creative Growth (California) & Bomb Diggity Arts (Maine).

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. Examples: Simon Rodia’s Watts Tower, Tom Every’s Forevertron, & Nek Chand’s Rock Garden.

Outsider art: 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.” Artists who may fall in this category have recently gained well-deserved recognition in the mainstream art world through exhibitions and art fairs. As this continues, the term “outsider art” is becoming controversial. Some people prefer to use self-taught art, non-mainstream 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] terms offers more dignity.” Examples: Henry Darger, Lee GodieMartín Ramírez, & Joseph Yoakum.

Please reach out with any questions at uncommon.canvas.blog@gmail.com! The main blogger here is Amanda (we also have guest bloggers and interviews), and she is happy to answer questions and send you info. She worked for several years at a museum that specialized in underrepresented artists and currently runs a community arts and exhibit space in Portland, Maine.

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Art by Joseph Yoakum