The I Am Other network has made a name for itself on YouTube for creating series that push viewers to learn and think about what the network defines as “others”: people who push society forward by thinking, creating and breaking the rules. I Am Other is now partnering with the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, to feature the stories and art creations of the center’s disabled residents in their newest show “Creative Growth.”
The Creative Growth Art Center was founded in 1974 as a safe haven for artistic individuals living with mental, physical or developmental disabilities. The space offers disabled artists the chance to take art classes with local art teachers as well as display their work in the center’s gallery. The center previously collaborated with renowned individuals such as fashion designer Marc Jacobs and with galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art in NY and SF.
“When I first saw the trailer for this series I was blown away. These artists’ relentless pursuit to express themselves, no matter the obstacles, is beyond inspiring,” stated Pharrell Williams, founder of I Am Other, in a press release. “They prove we all have the ability to create art and deserve the opportunity to do so.”
The “Creative Growth” YouTube series captures the perseverance of artists who have used art, fashion and animation to communicate what their words cannot. The videos are cut from eight years of footage shot at the Center by filmmaker Cheryl Dunn and will be released onto the I Am Other YouTube channel. Each video features the project of an artist from the center along with a profile about their life and the reasons why they turned to using art.
“I really hope people watch these films again and again, because there is so much to learn about this community,” filmmaker Cheryl Dunn shared with NMR. “People can be fearful of anything to do with mental disability, but the truth is – it touches most people’s lives in some way. Somewhere around one in three Americans are in therapy or take some type of medication. I’m very excited to be able to share with this audience art that is coming from someone who might have a different way of seeing or communicating, but intrinsically has the same needs that all humans have. When Gerone Spruill says his mind is like a time machine — it really is. My mind does not work like a time machine, but I have so much to learn from him. My former notions of disability were totally turned around by my experiences at Creative Growth, and I want to share those formative moments in this series. Humanity is about understanding, and art is a very welcoming door into that understanding.”
Check out more I Am Other shows below: