I’ve been a fan of Creativity Explored since I moved to San Francisco six years ago. This organization teaches all disciplines of art to more than 135 developmentally disabled individuals. The majority are long-term participants in the program, and some have been with Creativity Explored for more than 25 years. Teachers help participants find and develop a medium and style that
truly compliments their perspective and skill, just as any student at an art school might explore the craft. The result of this work is absolutely explosive. Before discovering CE, I had never come across artists with more distinctive perspectives or techniques. Since I’ve become a fan, I’ve closely followed the artists’ work , attended nearly every show, and bought what work I can.
I’ve realized that pieces by Creativity Explored artists are taking over the walls of not only my apartment, but also those of my friends and family members. Given my enthusiasm about the organization, I felt it was time for me to get to know some of these creative folks a bit better. Here are five of the artists I had the pleasure of meeting on my recent trip to the studio.
Years at Creativity Explored: 10
Medium/Style: Camille creates rich and opulent oil pastel pieces that center on forbidden foods and indulgent activities. Her sacred objects include pies, cakes, cupcakes, Ferris wheels, and cross-eyed individuals. At times, Camille pairs her powerful images with text to create dreamlike (or perhaps nightmare-like) work that speaks directly to the hedonistic battle within us all.
Process: Endlessly introspective, Camille creates art through a process of self-discovery and exploration. She digs deep into her own psyche to find themes and thoughts that sometimes surprise even her.
In her own words:
Years at Creativity Explored: 6
Medium/Style: The ever-welcoming Antonio works primarily with watercolor pencils and acrylics to create bright scenes of groups or communities. One of his collections of houses was chosen to adorn a limited-edition tote bag produced by CB2. At the moment, Antonio is developing his city series featuring varied depictions of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla towns.
Process: Antonio calls on his experience growing up in the African-American community of San Francisco. His work is colorful and joyous while remaining discerning and racially charged.
In his own words:
Years at Creativity Explored: 15
Medium/Style: Peter uses ink and watercolor to create detailed pieces that depict scenes of daily life. In addition, he is an accomplished ceramicist known for bold characters adorned with intricate shapes and other patterned etchings.
Process: His inspiration is drawn primarily from his Filipino heritage and his fascination with Native American cultures. By depicting the past, Peter shows audiences ways in which historical depictions and events remain relevant today.
In his own words:
Years at Creativity Explored: 4
Medium/Style: At the moment Bertha works primarily as a printmaker. Within her restricted palette (she mostly uses only two colors per piece) she layers handwritten backgrounds with courageous prints of animals and other creatures.
Process: Born to an impoverished family in Peru, Bertha invokes much of her childhood experience in her work. Her unfulfilled desire to attend school as a young girl has resulted in her obsession with text in her current work, particularly her frequent use of background text. Additionally, her minimalist yet forceful figures hark back to the powerful minimalism we see in Peruvian folk art.
In her own words: Bertha does not speak English and is rather shy. However, with the help of her teacher, Victor Cartagena, she told me that
Years at Creativity Explored: 9
Medium/Style: Lance’s detailed architectural drawings allow his subject matter to steal the show. With painstaking detail, Lance represents the often-overlooked elements of our urban landscape and reminds us of the beauty in these structural monuments.
Process: Lance has a longstanding love affair with San Francisco and uses the city as his inspiration. He travels on Muni to photograph many of the city’s epic modern industrial creations. With these images of bridges, skyscrapers, tunnels, and trains, he creates striking works that remind audiences of the awesome in the infrastructure that surrounds us.
In his own words:
Check out Creativity Explored’s current exhibit “Small.” The show, which will be up through Aug 10th, features more than 40 CE artists’ miniature works. The collection features pint-sized ceramics, woodblock paintings, ink drawings, watercolors, and mixed-media pieces giving you something new to discover at every turn.