Oakland Museum of California to feature works of NIAD artists

Oakland Museum of California features NIAD works in exhibit
Photo courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California.

By Kathy Chouteau

Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is partnering with Richmond’s NIAD Art Center and other Bay Area organizations serving artists with developmental disabilities to present “Into the Brightness: Artists from Creativity Explored, Creative Growth & NIAD,” a large-scale, multimedia exhibition Fri., May 19, 2023 through Jan. 21, 2024.

OMCA said it will be “a major exhibition celebrating the myriad works of world-renowned contemporary artists with developmental disabilities producing work of incredible power, exuberance, humor, complexity and joy across multiple mediums and styles.”

Artists from Creativity Explored in San Francisco and Creative Growth in Oakland will join NIAD in the exhibition, sharing their “powerful work across multiple artistic disciplines” including painting, sculpture, film, multimedia, textiles and more, per the museum. It’s the largest museum exhibition to date featuring artists from the three Bay Area organizations, including: Saul Alegria, Peter Cordova, Tranesha Smith-Kilgore, Marlon Mullen, Dorian Reid, William Scott, Dinah Shapiro, Nicole Storm and Marilyn Wong. 

“Our organizations were founded under the premise that everyone has creative potential that deserves to be nurtured and celebrated,” said Creativity Explored, Creative Growth and NIAD Art Center in a collaborative statement. The organizations added that the existing and emerging artists from their 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.” They said they’re excited “to bring this show to life” with OMCA.

Luis Estrada at work at the NIAD Art Center. (Photo courtesy of OMCA)

The exhibition will be arranged into three sections. The first, “Welcome,” will show the artists preparing for the exhibition via “video portraits” and other videos that show them working in the gallery. Aside from other facets of the section, OMCA said that visitors will be introduced to Elias Katz and Florence Ludins-Katz, founders of the three exhibiting organizations during the disability rights movement in the ‘70s and ‘80s. 

“The World Around and Within,” the exhibition’s second section, artists will give a glimpse into the artists’ “interior world and the world around them,” while the third section, “Language and Communication,” will feature those artists who use “text, language and other modes of communication as form and subject matter for their art,” per OMCA.

The Oakland Museum Women’s Board and the Andy Warhol Foundation contributed major support for the exhibition.

OMCA is located at 1000 Oak St. in Oakland. Tickets will be available for “Into the Brightness: Artists from Creativity Explored, Creative Growth & NIAD” starting April 19. Learn more about the exhibition here.