Our Visionaries

Current Exhibition:

The Big Hope Show

Thru Sept. 4, 2016!

AVAM's all new exhibition champions the radiant and transformative power of hope, and features work by 25+ visionary artists, among them many "super survivors" of enormous personal traumas.



Martin Ramirez


When Martin Ramirez came to America in 1925 it was to get work building railroads in Northern California but he did not remain in this profession for very long. While in America he wrote letters to his wife and four children in Mexico and drew pictures in the margins until he was hospitalized in the early '30s and diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was initially confined at Stockholm State Hospital, where he began to create his drawings, using whatever available bits of paper he could find, usually glued together with paste made of bread or potatoes and saliva. In 1948, he was transferred to DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn where he was to spend the remainder of his life. It was there that he met the Finish psychologist and artist, Tarmo Pasto. Dr. Pasto was taken by Ramirez's work and began to bring him materials and save his drawings. At one point Pasto even lived on the DeWitt grounds in order to observe Ramirez every day. In the early '50s, Dr. Pasto helped arrange four shows for Ramirez, primarily on college campuses, including Syracuse University. In 1955 he sent ten drawings to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum but never heard back from them. An intern found the drawings in the mid '90s and by 1997 they were officially accessioned.