IMPACT
01/21/2016 01:42 pm ET

'Outsider Art' Brings Artists With Disabilities Into The Gallery

"For the artists, seeing things they made in stores gives them a great sense of purpose."
A man works on an oil painting during a Resources for Human Development workshop for people with disabili
Inner Space Outsider Art Gallery
A man works on an oil painting during a Resources for Human Development workshop for people with disabilities in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

The phrase "outsider art" does not, at first glance, seem inclusive. It's a broad term used in the art world to denote the work of self-taught artists who develop outside the institutional structures of art schools, galleries and museums.

But when Josh and Dana Kretzmann were deciding what to name their new gallery focusing on artists with disabilities, Outsider Art seemed like the perfect name for the works on display. 

Josh Kretzmann told The Huffington Post that they didn't choose that term because it's restrictive, but because it's so widely accepted in the art world.

"There's no other term that encapsulates what were trying to do, and this really gets our name out there," he said.

The Kretzmanns opened the Inner Space Outsider Art Gallery and Store last month in Providence, Rhode Island, with funds raised through Kickstarter. All the work on display is made by people with physical or mental disabilities.

It was important to the founders that this art be sold and shown to the general public just like more traditional, professional artwork. 

Inner Space sources its wares from 11 arts programs for people with disabilities in New England.

"A lot of arts therapy day programs will have gallery shows in their own spaces," Josh Kretzmann told HuffPost. "But we wanted to get their work into a more public setting."

Arts therapy uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. None of the artists whose work is in Inner Space are professionals, but they all receive commission from their sales. Eighty percent of the profits from Inner Space go back to the arts programs and artists, while the remaining fifth goes to gallery maintenance.

"Arts therapy is important because there aren’t a lot of creative jobs for people with disabilities," Liana Toscanini, marketing director at Community Access to the Arts, a nonprofit that works with Inner Space, told HuffPost.

She said that Inner Space is part of a growing movement to disseminate artwork by people of disabilities, as evidenced by organizations like the Creative Growth gallery in California and the bTizzy online store

"It's a win-win because retailers love partnering with this community, and for the artists, seeing things they made in stores gives them a great sense of purpose," she said.

Both the Kretzmanns have studio art credentials: Dana has an MFA in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design and Josh has a BFA from University of California, Davis. They say that their background provided them with paths to make their work visible and profitable, which are not usually available to people with disabilities.

“It's so much easier for people with a traditional art background to have their work in shops and museums. We want Inner Space to be a place where our artists can show nearby professional artists and sell their work to the general public," Kretzmann said.

For more coverage of Outsider Art and artists, check out HuffPost's coverage of the 2016 Outsider Art Fair.

A man looks up from a loom at Flying Shuttles Studio, a Rhode Island nonprofit that supports artists and weavers with in
Inner Space Outsider Art Gallery via Kickstarter
A man looks up from a loom at Flying Shuttles Studio, a Rhode Island nonprofit that supports artists and weavers with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Flying Shuttles rugs are sold at Inner Space.
A painting for sale at Inner Space.
Inner Space Outsider Art Gallery
A painting for sale at Inner Space.
A painting for sale at Inner Space.
Inner Space Outsider Art Gallery
A painting for sale at Inner Space.

 

Also on HuffPost:

PHOTO GALLERY
Outsider Art Fair 2016
CONVERSATIONS