We Are Not Alone - Angels and Other Aliens
The World's First Robot Family, DeVon Smith
October 2, 1999 - September 3, 2000
Curated by Susan Subtle Dintenfass
WE ARE NOT ALONE: ANGELS AND OTHER ALIENS presents the solutions of 90 unique artists to this dilemma. Their results are as varied as the extreme forces that shaped them: physical or psychological isolation, institutional confinement, betrayal, memories and/or fantasies of alien abduction; religious beliefs; or just the hope that there are other worlds beyond their immediate understanding. This exhibit - which I have assembled with awe and respect for the exceptional individuals represented - consists of the work of outsider artists. Outsider or visionary art is made by people who have a need to create but who do not know they are making "art." The art created by these amateur artists, most of whom have not had formal art training, is not done with the intention of joining the art world . Most outsider artists do not attend gallery and museum shows, and none consider themselves part of an art movement. They often use unusual materials and implements to make their art. Outsider artists are generally more obsessive about creating their work than displaying or selling it. Some have mental and/or physical disabilities. When the movement began shortly after World War II, most were Europeans confined to mental institutions. Since then, however, the description has grown to include American folk art; self-taught, naive art, and visionary art. I myself am a journalist and product designer. I have no scholarly qualifications in the art field - and in that sense, at least, I, too, am an outsider. My introduction to the outsider world came in 1982, when experts in this field, including scholars, collectors, and artists, assembled for a seminar at the Oakland Museum of California. A colleague and I reported on this seminar for the Wall Street Journal.
In the following years I frequently visited Creative Growth, an art center in Oakland for the physically and mentally challenged and I was constantly delighted by the paintings and objects they produced. My actual journey to find the treasures in this exhibition began last fall. Initially, I traveled overseas to visit Europe's centers of outsider and visionary art: The Collection de l 'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland and the House of Artists in Gugging, Austria. I also saw two important traveling exhibitions: Outsider and Folk Art: The Chicago Collections in Paris and The Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. Back in the United States I visited collectors, galleries and artists in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Atlanta, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and California. After seeing hundreds and hundreds (thousands and thousands) of artistic miracles, I selected approximately 250 for WE ARE NOT ALONE. After much thought, I divided these nearly unclassifiable works into five separate galleries; Art Brut; First Sightings; Hall of Companions; Beasties, Mermaids & Imaginary Beings; Angels, Devils & Haints.