Outside In 670x250.jpg

Director’s Note | Year End Letter

Dear Friend,

Not everyone gets to be a part of history.

Creative Growth’s history is the story of people with developmental disabilities becoming contemporary artists. Artists whose work now influences other artists, impacts our culture, and increases the capacity for people with disabilities to achieve beyond what many have imagined. Our story is still evolving. With your support, we’ll make the next decade our most important ever.

Look at what has already changed. In my office I keep a progressive publication from the early 1970’s, when Creative Growth was founded. It is called Life with a Retarded Adult, and it discusses whether a family can bring an adult child with a disability out to a restaurant or if they should always eat at home. This is the environment in which Creative Growth was born. It’s a stark reminder of how radical our art experiment was and how far we have come.

We continue to make history in our studio everyday. This past year:

Facebook commissioned artists John Martin and Kim Clark to create large-scale wall installations that will become permanent parts of its new Frank Gehry designed headquarters in Menlo Park, CA.

Bound and Unbound, a major traveling retrospective exhibition of Judith Scott’s eighteen years of sculpture making, was presented at the Brooklyn Museum to excellent reviews from The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Our Video Production Workshop presented a new 30-minute film, Starquarius, in multiple East Bay locations and is preparing for national gallery screenings.

We provided leadership in the field through consultations and lectures about our work at gatherings of international curators and arts administrators in San Francisco, New York, Vancouver and Tokyo.

Everyday at Creative Growth, new artists find their way and achieve the unexpected. Artists like Monica Valentine. Have you seen Monica’s multicolored sculpture composed of pins and beads in our gallery? Optically magical, tactilely enticing, these are made by a woman who has been totally blind since birth. Her path towards making art that involves detailed handwork, pins and intricate color patterns defies what some might expect her to do. She is changing the way in which the world views artists who are blind.

Monica’s story is a Creative Growth story. Individuals rising above their circumstances, art serving as a fundamental human expression, each of us supporting and being inspired by one another.

We have more artists to serve, but we need funding to continue our work. Sixty percent of our annual budget comes from individual donations.

Artists like Monica need your gifts to help support:

• Our $150,000 annual art supply budget
• Transportation costs for our artists to get to us from around the Bay Area
• Lunches for those who are unable to bring food with them
• Presentation of artists’ work in five countries
• Our talented staff – who support, mentor and befriend our artists six days a week…and have for over four decades

Forty years ago our artists lived in an entirely different world, one filled with stigma and misunderstanding. Let’s not go back there. Let’s move forward and forge a new path together. With your support, we will continue to make history happen.

Today, I am happy to say there is a new book in my office. Simply called The Creative Growth Book, it reviews our 40-year history and includes new essays by Matthew Higgs and David Byrne, and new writing from the USA and Europe about our artists, our history and our projects. It’s an essential new review of our history, filled with compelling images and artwork that have never been seen before. The book will not be released until 2016, but is available to you now in recognition of your support of our artists.

I hope you will be able to meet Monica and all our artists in the studio soon, and that you will be a part of what we will continue to do together. Monica and our 160 other artists are hoping for your support.

Every dollar matters. Email me at tom@creativegrowth.org if you have any questions about what your support will do.

We are going further still. Come help us write the next chapter, we need your support.

Wishing you peace and creativity this holiday season,

Tom di Maria


P.S. Receive an advance copy of The Creative Growth Book, with a gift of $250 or a monthly pledge of $15 or more.