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15-Royal Robertson Untitled (The Ten Commandment Laws or Dustdard Sinfulness Farm) c1980 (1)

Known/ Unknown: Private Obsessions and Hidden Desire in Outsider Art

Could there be two better bedfellows than that of outsider art and sexual taboo? Both all too often sit at the periphery of society; be it through matter of circumstance, prevailing norms, or, what is simply considered “proper.” It is for these reasons, and many more, that the two worlds enjoy a remarkable overlap. “Known/Unknown: […]

Henry Darger

The Ultimate Outsider: Celebrating Henry Darger on His 125th Birthday

Despite the growing canon of Outsider Art, Chicago’s Henry Darger stands among one of its central and most significant figures. Intensely reclusive, he worked by day as a hospital janitor, a banal occupation that could not be more different from his inner life in his one-room apartment in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. His habitat was […]

William Edmondson, Robson Collection

Collecting Self: The Robson Collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

To talk about the late Margaret Z. Robson’s collection of self-taught art—recently donated to the Smithsonian American Art Museum—you have to talk about how she collected. “My mother was basically a farm girl,” says her son, Douglas Robson, steward of the collection after Mrs. Robson’s passing. “So she was sort of an untrained artist in […]

Kane cover

This Land is Our Land: A Look at How Outsider Art Defined America

While many self-taught artists helped define and change our perceptions of the art world, they also had a hand in helping shape and define America. At our current juncture, America appears to be harshly divided, and the question of what it means to be an American is being raised. While the history of America is […]

A. Partial Gallery We Live Here We

We Live Here: The Unplanned Art Community at Benton Plaza

“I started dreaming about my art until I realized I could draw what I was dreaming,” says Ruth Van Order. Standing grand and magnificent the Neo-Renaissance styled Benton Plaza in Corvallis Oregon is testimony to many cultural and social changes over the years. Formerly a hotel and now a repurposed mixed use building, Benton Plaza […]

Wendy Brackman, "Brackman's Botanical Bonanza," Hand painted paper plates, straws, Ping-Pong balls, paper towel tubes, endless staples. Photo credit Jill Ribich. Part of Yummm! at AVAM.

YUMMM! Visions of Food at AVAM

Ruby C. Williams sells produce at a stand along Florida’s State Road 60, which runs east-west through the Sunshine State from Clearwater Beach on the Gulf of Mexico, through Tampa, and on to Vero Beach on the Atlantic Coast. She hand-paints signs to entice passing motorists to stop, and her advertisements are rendered in bright […]