An Affinity With Outsider Art


Insider Art by Bruce Gray

A precise definition of Outsider Art has yet to find universal acceptance.  In essence it is art produced in response to some inner creative urge by those isolated from, or on the fringes of,  society, ignorant of the art world and its passing fads, unversed in conventional techniques, oblivious as to how others respond to their creativity, and wholly divorced from any concern with financial gain.

To art critics and collectors, the appeal of Outsider Art lies in its essential purity.  They would argue that this art is a reflection of innate, untainted creativity that provides a window into the innermost recesses of the human soul.   Outsider Art wells up like a volcano from deep within the artist, wholly uninfluenced by how others might view the work and with no regard to possible monetary reward.  Thus Outsider Art is manifestly free of many of the criticisms leveled at the contemporary art world.Because Outsider Art  lacks a universally acceptable definition,  it is sometimes used to include other, more peripheral, art forms.   Thus some would burden Outsider Art by expanding it to encompass all manner of ‘rustic’, ‘ethnic’, ‘primitive’, ‘folk’ and other untrained, childish expressions of creativity that may be broadly  identified as ‘naif art’.   Outsider Art more rigorously envisioned, while sometimes naif, possesses a depth far beyond the merely unsophisticated.

Joyce & Judith Scott

Le Enchanteur, drawn in 2005 is, by definition, a piece of Outsider Art. She is the work of the untrained and does not pretend to be a sophisticated drawing.

To write is my first language. To draw and make tactile forms of art is my second language.

During the period of my husband’s decline I spent evenings by his side drawing. Le Enchanteur was know to the Soul Food Cafe community as the energetic spirit who led kindred spirits into the misty world of Lemuria. This very early portrait of her, along with hundreds of subsequent drawings were each completed within a three hour time span. These drawings are, undoubtedly, a form of naive self portraiture.

Finding my place as an Outsider Artist is like finding the holy grail.