The Coalition Ingenu Self-Taught Artists Collective, Philadelphia PA

September 25, 2012 – October 26, 2012

Founded in 1995, the Coalition Ingenu Self-taught Artists’ Collective (CI) has presented or assisted in the presentation of over 150 exhibits of art by self-taught artists marginalized by a wide range of personal circumstances. Unlike trained artists, self-taught artists tend to be considerably less motivated by expectations of fame or fortune and, therefore, generally have no system in place to promote themselves. Instead, they are motivated by the abstract rewards derived more directly from the creative process itself. The results are often very genuine, fresh and original, often incorporating dreams, visions, fantasies, or stylized impressions of what they have seen or remember about the extraordinary circumstances of their lives. Sometimes raw or crude, sometimes subtle, sometimes wildly expressive, intellectual or sublime, this kind of artwork is not merely decorative, it also frequently provides unfiltered insights into the complex thoughts and personalities of the artists.

Coalition Ingenu encounters these artists by word of mouth, or directly through its’ work with area non-profit organizations serving the needs of the homeless and/or mentally disabled. One important focus of Coalition Ingenu is to uncover these genuine examples of self-expression and offer them as insights into the true nature of an artists’ compulsion to create.

Coalition Ingenu is about as grass roots as it gets. They deliver crude art supplies to disadvantaged artists — including house paints and various flat painting surfaces. They build many of the frames for the artwork from scratch – even ripping some of the molding from salvaged wood or inexpensive furring strips. CI encourages the artists to be resourceful and find ways to make art with whatever they may find available. Once created, CI photographs the artwork, maintains records and builds portfolios. In Philadelphia and beyond, CI has earned a reputation and developed a following among collectors of self-taught or outsider art. Articles and stories about the collective have appeared in numerous publications, as well as on radio and television. Many images from the group have been reproduced in newspapers, magazines, books, calendars, CD covers and web sites, and some of the artists have achieved national or international recognition.

This exhibit features artwork by some of the collective’s better known “core group” members and includes a diversity of styles from ten different artists. From the witty, darkly humorous reflections of Jim Bloom to the modern-primitive, allegorical compositions of Small Boy Bob. From the simple, folk art finger-paintings of Mary Crawford to the obsessive, visionary masterpieces of Justin Duerr. From the southern outsider renderings of John Author Goffigan to the post Haight-Ashbury, trippy, glitter fantasies of Big Joe Johnson. From the labor-intensive collage constructions of David Kime to the neo-expressive, post-outsider offerings of the British-born Michelle Kral (aka mitsi b). And from the mystical, line-drawn, psychic visions of the late Renee Leshner, to the fantastical, other-worldly landscapes of Ed Woltemate, Jr. This collection has something for everybody.