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Oakland Center Provides Creative Space for Artists with Disabilities

SFARTS and Art21's continued partnership, exploring the influence of Bay Area artists, features Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland

Creative Growth Art Center, founded by Elias and Florence Katz in 1974 at the height of the disability rights movement, operates in a former car-body shop near downtown Oakland, California. It provides studios, gallery space, and supplies to over 150 artists with developmental, mental, and physical disabilities, who engage in a diverse range of artistic media. Rooted in the belief that art is intrinsic to human expression and that everyone deserves access to its means of communication, Creative Growth serves as a nurturing hub for artistic exploration.

“Creative Growth is about artistic expression as a form of self-empowerment, as a form of aesthetic development. As a form of saying, "‘This is who I am in the world,’” says Tom di Maria, Director of Creative Growth Art Center.

The film tells the story of artists Dan Miller, Judith Scott, William Scott, and Monica Valentine and shares their creative contributions to the Bay Area. Dan Miller illustrates with paper, ink, pencil, and paint, creating dense layers of words and letters and objects. Judith Scott’s vivid and enigmatic sculptures express her imagination in ways she could not through speech. William Scott’s paintings often render San Francisco as “Praise Frisco,” an imagined utopia that realizes his idealization of a wholesome place of community. Monica Valentine uses pins, colored sequins, beads, and shaped foam to create sculptures that are both visually rich and tactile. 

The work of Creative Growth Art Center will be featured in Creative Growth: The House That Art Built, a large-scale exhibition at SFMOMA on view April 3, 2024 through October 6, 2024 celebrating the 50th year anniversary of the organization. SFMOMA will also be presenting a major commission from Creative Growth artist William Scott on the second floor of the museum in its free art-filled space.

Learn more about Art21 at art21.org and across social media at @art21.


Images: Production stills from the "San Francisco Bay Area" episode of Art in the Twenty-First Century, Season 9. © Art21, Inc. 2018.



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