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Legend: Myth and Memory

January 7 - February 24, 2009

Creativity Explored

San Francisco, CA

Artwork by Daniel Green © 2008 Creativity Explored.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a picture covered in words worth? In the case of Creativity Explored's many studio artists with developmental disabilities, some of whom do not speak, making art that brings images and text together can become a powerful way to communicate stories that often remain untold.

A group exhibition opening in January offers a compelling glimpse into the interior worlds and memories of many of the gallery's studio artists through works that feature personal snippets of text incorporated into paintings, drawings and works on wood.

Curator and Creativity Explored Artist Instructor Gilles Combet often fields questions from gallery visitors about the artists he works with every day. "People want to know more about who they are," he says. "So, I told the artists that and encouraged them to tell their stories by adding text to their images. And I wanted to know too, how deep do these images go?"

Often they go very deep. Artist Camille Holvoet, who has a whole series of pieces in the show, revisits and recrafts memories over and over in her work, sometimes even painful ones. On a painting that includes a self-portrait as a child, she writes, "What am I hollering about? Christmas memories. Locked upstairs in my room everybody else was downstairs around the Christmas tree." A painting of an apparition from the dream world features these words "It's a dream of violent hair pulling. A dream of when I didn't get my way." Another features just a list of words "Invisible. Obsessed. Confused. Diminished." But more often than not her self-reflections tend to be on the lighter side including the statement that "Menopause feels like getting over a long crush." Even in the many vivid paintings she makes of cupcakes and other desserts, there are windows into her life. A painting of two chocolate-covered ice cream cones becomes a meditation on God and Heaven during which she draws the connection between the cones and her spirituality with the words "Heaven is a very cool place to go with God."

The work of artist James Miles has often been called autobiographical but his extremely detailed miniature line drawings do not always provide obvious connections. With the addition of text, a world of personal private moments is revealed, all carefully documented with dates and titles and explanatory labels for people and objects of great interest. This includes everything from a Labor Day get together with the family to a day at the swimming pool with a gaggle of giggling girls. One piece however seems to beg further questions. Its title is simply Me at Christmas with Your Sister. And Miles also contributes a large image of a man on horseback bearing just one poetic and mysterious line "On Friday at eight twelve Dave was riding his horse to the East."

A young artist who will make his formal debut in this exhibition is 21-year-old Daniel Green, a relative newcomer to Creativity Explored, but already a keenly watched talent. Green has incorporated text into his work ever since he set foot into the studio. His delicate drawings are often unrelated to the extensive lists of dates, TV shows and key words like "Pay Per View" that crowd the page in sculptural columns. "He has an incredible memory like a lot of people with autism," says Combet. "He has memorized all of these TV shows and details about them, but then recombines the information according to private systems that become like poetry. It's a language we don't understand, but it's just beautiful." One of the many works Green contributes to the show features a portrait of the Obama family in the midst of TV station call letters. Another features a row of babies on a couch wearing numbers on their tummies surrounded by lists of soap opera titles.

Other artists featured in the exhibition include Lance Rivers, Evelyn Reyes, Loren King, Valerie Jenkins and more.

Creativity Explored
3245 16th Street (at Guerrero Street)
San Francisco, CA 94103

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