Oakland Museum shines ‘overdue light’ on works by artists with disabilities
on May 12, 2023
Colorful prints, intricate fashion designs and unique animations are just a few examples of what museum-goers can expect from the Oakland Museum of California’s new multimedia art exhibition “Into the Brightness,” opening May 19.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the museum and Bay Area art studios Creativity Explored, Creative Growth and NIAD, all of which have a decadeslong history of supporting artists with developmental disabilities.
“Into the Brightness” has three main sections: “Welcome,” which will feature artists working on their craft and be presented through video portraits and an arrangement of their artwork; “The World Around and Within,” which will show the artists’ visions of their world and the world around them; and “Language and Communication,” in which art centers around text, language and other modes of communication.
“This exhibition seeks to shine an overdue light on these artists’ contributions and the integral part they play in our communities,” Carin Adams, the museum’s curator, said in a news release.
Joseph Omolayole, who works with Creativity Explored in San Francisco, is among the featured artists. He draws, paints and animates, but his main passion is fashion. The exhibition will include some of his fashion designs and animations.
Omolayole has been making art since he was a child, and he joined Creativity Explored in 2016. He said world cultures, specifically Asian and African cultures, inspire a lot of his work.
“How I look at art in this world is all by cultural aspects back in time, and ancestors and ancient times, where they have all this beautiful original work, even on the walls of the caves and outside that I can learn so much from,” Omolayole said. “It’s very inspiring to me.”
Artist Deatra Colbert, a NIAD legend who has been with the studio for 30 years, said her drawings and paintings are inspired by sports like wrestling and basketball.
Colbert said she’s most excited to see a portrait she did with one of her NIAD instructors, Andrés Cisneros-Galindo, featured in the exhibition.
Felicia Griffin, also affiliated with NIAD, is a printmaker and fashion designer who uses pom-poms in her art. The exhibition will feature a pom-pom wall hanging and pom-pom sweatshirt she created.
Monica Valentine, with Creative Growth in Oakland, will display her beaded sculptures. Valentine, who is blind, said she’s excited about people seeing the work of blind artists at the exhibition.
“Beading the sculptures is my favorite part of making art,” Valentine said. “I can feel the colors. Red feels hot, blue is cold, green is freezing, yellow and white feels warm.”
Other featured artists include Saul Alegria, Peter Cordova, Tranesha Smith-Kilgore, Marlon Mullen, Dorian Reid, William Scott, Dinah Shapiro, Nicole Storm and Marilyn Wong.
“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,” the studios said in the news release. “We’re excited to have worked with OMCA to bring this show to life.”
More information about the exhibition is on the museum’s website.
(Photos courtesy of Oakland Museum of California)
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