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Kimball Art Center exhibit gives a platform to non-verbal artists

Oakland’s Creative Growth Art Center showcased through Aug. 14

Kimball Art Center’s new exhibit showcases 10 artists from Oakland’s Creative Growth Art Center, a world-renowned nonprofit and leader in the field of arts and disabilities.
David Jackson/Park Record

The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” isn’t a cliche for those who cannot fully express themselves verbally.

This is the theme of the Kimball Art Center’s new exhibit, uncoincidentally titled “More Than a Thousand Words,” which will display through Aug. 14.

The show features work by 10 internationally acclaimed and emerging artists from Oakland’s Creative Growth Art Center, a world-renowned nonprofit and leader in the field of arts and disabilities, said Aldy Milliken, Kimball Art Center executive director.



Creative Growth, founded in 1974, established a model for creativity based on the idea that art is fundamental to human expression and communication, he said.

“I first came across the organization in 2010-2011,” Milliken said. “I was introduced to Tom di Maria, who was the director emeritus and had worked with the studio for many years.”



The expressive works, which are showcased at some of the world’s highest levels of international art fairs, such as the New Art Dealer Alliance (NADA) show at Art Basel that is held in Miami every December, piqued Milliken’s interest.

“I started wondering what the studio was all about,” he said. “I learned through the years that it authentically supports the artists and provides them with incredible creative resources.”

Through Creative Growth, hundreds of artists, many of who have long been marginalized, have developed sophisticated creative skills, according to Milliken.

The cocoon wrapped objects created by the late Judith Scott, are some highlights of the Kimball Art Center’s “More Than a Thousand Words” exhibit.
David Jackson/Park Record

Judith Scott, known for her cocoon-like wrapped bundles, was one of the first artists Milliken discovered through Creative Growth.

Scott was born with down syndrome and deaf and was institutionalized for most of her life, Milliken said.

“Her twin sister, Joyce, was the one who brought to Creative Growth, and she is probably the best-known of these artists,” he said. “Unfortunately, she has since passed away.”

Another artist showing works in the exhibit is Susan Janow, who creates meditative abstractions, said Nancy Stoaks, Kimball Art Center curator.

“We have her earlier pieces from 2012, where you start to see her interest in mark making, and then we have some of her current works where you can really see the abstractions,” Stoaks said. “It’s fun to see the trajectory and how she developed her style.”

“More Than a Thousand Words,” an exhibit at the Kimball Art Center, gives artists like William Tyler, who were born with disabilities, a platform to express themselves.
David Jackson/Park Record

Stoaks worked with Creative Growth to select the artists for the Kimball Art Center exhibit.

“We wanted to bring in enough artists to give a good representation of what Creative Growth does but also give space to these artists so people can discover the different layers of their works,” she said. “The exhibit shows the range of how the artists work, their mediums and what they are making work about.”

Stoakes enjoyed the challenge of laying out the show, which includes more than 50 pieces of art and a series of short documentary videos.

“For this particular show, we started with figurative work in the far gallery to showcase artists who are exploring ideas about what’s right and wrong in the world,” she said. “Then we moved into strong portrait work in the next gallery. So, each area has its own themes and personalities.” We are excited to bring so much of their works out here.”

Milliken conceived the idea to bring “More Than a Thousand Words” to the Kimball Art Center last fall.

“I last saw Tom at the Armory art show in New York last September, and said we should do another project together and then Nancy curated this exhibition,” he said. “Since we have so many people here who also make art, there’s a nice connection to process, and we can learn so much from these artists who ultimately use their art as a way of communicating to the world, when they can’t really verbally do that. Art is the deepest form of communication, and that comes out through these works. They can tell their stories and share their pictures of the world.”

‘More Than a Thousand Words’

When: Through Aug. 14

Where: The Kimball Art Center, 1251 Kearns Blvd.

Phone: 435-649-8882

Web: kimballartcenter.org

‘More Than a Thousand Words’ exhibit artists and their mediums

• Lauren Dare – mixed media on paper

• Susan Janow – ink on paper and video

• Dwight Mackintosh – mixed media on paper

• Dan Miller – acrylic and ink on paper

• Donald Mitchell – acrylic and ink on paper

• Latefa Noorazi – acrylic and ink on paper

• Judith Scott – textile and mixed media sculpture

• William Scott – acrylic on paper, acrylic on canvas, color aquatint and hardground etching with gold leaf

• William Tyler – ink on paper

• Ron Veasey – acrylic on paper

For information, visit creativegrowth.org.


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