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Oakland Museum of California Announces New Major Exhibition Celebrating The Work of World-Renowned Contemporary Artists with Developmental Disabilities

Into The Brightness: Artists From Creativity Explored, Creative Growth & NIAD Brings Together Artists and Staff from Three Profound Bay Area Institutions in this Large-Scale Multimedia Exhibition.

(OAKLAND, CA) March 23, 2023 — On Friday, May 19, 2023, Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) will present Into the Brightness: Artists from Creativity Explored, Creative Growth & NIAD, a major exhibition celebrating the myriad works of world-renowned contemporary artists with developmental disabilities producing work of incredible power, exuberance, humor, complexity, and joy across multiple mediums and styles.

Rooted in the idea that making art is a fundamental human practice and form of communication that all people are entitled to, Into the Brightness invites visitors to consider these artists’ perspectives on the world through their powerful work across multiple artistic disciplines including painting, sculpture, film, multimedia, textiles, and more. This original exhibition presented by OMCA is the largest museum exhibition featuring artists from the three Bay Area institutions — Creativity Explored in San Francisco, Creative Growth in Oakland, and NIAD (Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development) in Richmond.

“Our organizations were founded under the premise that everyone has creative potential that deserves to be nurtured and celebrated,” said Creativity ExploredCreative Growth, and the NIAD Art Center in a joint statement. “The existing and emerging artists from our studios are powerful members of the Bay Area art scene who provide an important lens into how art is a tool for communication, expression, and connection. We’re excited to have worked with OMCA to bring this show to life.”

Into the Brightness will be organized into three main sections. Beginning with Welcome, visitors will be primed to see the artists involved in creating the exhibition through large-scale video portraits and an environmental video showing the artists working in the gallery. Visitors will then be introduced to the three institutions and provide a glimpse into studio life for the artists. Echoing the creative and lively atmosphere of studio life, a curated kaleidoscopic arrangement of artworks will surround a large table for artists and visitors alike to sit together and be in community. Visitors will also be introduced to Elias Katz and Florence Ludins-Katz who founded the three Bay Area organizations during the height of the disability rights movement in the 1970s and 1980s. 

In the exhibition’s section section, The World Around and Within, various artists will offer a powerful vision of their interior world and the world around them. The final section, Language and Communication, will highlight artists who use text, language, and other modes of communication as form and subject matter for their art.

Featured artists will include Saul Alegria, Peter Cordova, Tranesha Smith-Kilgore, Marlon Mullen, Dorian Reid, William Scott, Dinah Shapiro, Nicole Storm, and Marilyn Wong

“The history of Bay Area art is incomplete without recognition of the work and stories of the artists from Creativity Explored, Creative Growth, and NIAD,” said  Carin Adams, co-curator of the exhibition and curator of art at OMCA. “This exhibition seeks to shine an overdue light on these artists’ contributions and the integral part they play in our communities. We’re thrilled to have collaborated with the artists, and these studios who provide them with essential resources to express themselves and thrive.”

Press images are available here.

Header image credit: Marilyn Wong, Untitled, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Creativity Explored.

Major support for Into the Brightness is provided by The Oakland Museum Women’s Board and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.