From the Margins to the Mainstream: Disability Art Today

Co-presented with the Sydney College of the Arts, and the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney

Creative Growth Center image

Tom di Maria
8 September, 2011

Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland, California, is the world's oldest and largest art center serving people with disabilities. Founded with a folding table and some paint during San Francisco's freedom of expression movement in the early 1970s, the center now serves 160 artists with developmental disabilities every week in its large art studio and gallery.

In this talk, Creative Growth's Director reviews the Center's history and aesthetics, its key artists, and discusses his work at placing the Center's artists into a contemporary arts arena. Notably, Creative Growth artists have designed products for Marc Jacobs and Barneys New York, and are included in permanent collections world-wide including of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and numerous European museums and collections.

Professor Stewart Einfeld, Chair of Mental Health and Convenor of the Disability and Community Research Group at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, will lead audience discussion following the lecture.

Tom di Maria has been Creative Growth Art Center’s Director for 11 years. Prior to this position, he served as Assistant Director of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, at UC Berkeley. Tom has worked as the Executive Director of FRAMELINE, and as Director of Development and Marketing at the San Francisco Film Society. He holds a B.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology and a M.F.A. from Maryland Institute, College of Art, in film and photography. Tom is also an award-winning filmmaker, with short film awards from Sundance, Black Maria, Sinking Creek, National Educational Media, and New York Experimental film festivals.

Tom di Maria is in Australia as a guest of Professor Colin Rhodes, Director of the Self-Taught and Outsider Art Research Collection, Dean of the Sydney College of the Arts and Chair of the Division of Architecture and Creative Arts, University of Sydney.