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Outsider Art

Although I would prefer to avoid labels completely, I realize that some clarification of the term "Outsider Art" is necessary. Let me share with you the explanation I find most useful.

Outsiders, while they may live among us, inhabit worlds separate from ours. They are not motivated to satisfy our aesthetic sense; rather than working from an artistic tradition, they create unique expressions of inner thoughts and feelings that they are driven to produce. From places that most of us cannot even imagine, they exorcise personal demons, illustrate sexual fantasies, diagram places that exist only in their minds, bless us with special prayers to personal deities, and demonstrate profoundly disturbing personal events or ideas. Outsiders do not expand their horizons or stretch to accomplish something out of the ordinary. They already live in their own strange worlds, and by creating images, allow us to visit these worlds.

We must remember that no designation or label will turn pedestrian images into important or exciting art. We should be able to see the intrinsic value of an artist’s work before we designate it as art, with or without labels such as Outsider.

Bonnie Grossman
AmesNews Vol.3, 1992