LAND—League, Artists Natural Design—Gallery, features artists with disabilities. The 15 adult artists who are currently a part of LAND’s program use the gallery’s studio space to produce drawings, paintings, and sculptures that explore through both abstraction and figuration a myriad of cultural concerns.
LAND operates as a nonprofit funded through the federal Medicaid health program, one with a dual mission to “teach life skills through the modality of art and allow artists a studio program to create their visions,” according to LAND curator Matthew Murphy, who founded the gallery in 2005. “We are completely hands off with the artists. We are here to provide materials and it’s an open studio where the artists work from their own experiences and interpretations,” says LAND Coordinator Sophia Cosmadopoulos. Noting that LAND is less an art therapy program and more like a daily residency, Murphy adds, “the art comes first, no matter what.”
The gallery will have a booth at this year’s Outsider Art Fair and has had shows at MoMA, MAD Museum, and the Museum of Everything. The gallery has also coordinated commercial collaborations between LAND artists and retailers including J.Crew and Opening Ceremony.
The LAND artists generally use popular culture as a point of inspiration for their works. Myasia Dowdell’s paintings, Michael Jackson and LL Cool J, and Kenya Hanley’s Reggae Greatsare portraits that draw on the artists’ fascinations with music. Michael Pellew’s drawing, 4 Decades of Celebrity, features several Pop portraits of the Kardashians, among other celebrities, to explore America’s obsession with fame.
“It’s really important that we become a landmark for the type artists that we serve. LAND is helping to set the stage for a lot of discussions about how people with developmental disabilities can participate in the world,” explains Matthews to The Creators Project. “There are other services that day habilitation programs that Medicaid offer but this is pretty unique because the artists are able to make a living from their work,” says Cosmadopoulos. “These artists are separate from mainstream art and art history and they are very original and doing their vision their way.” She adds, “It’s a pretty pure way of creating artwork.”
LAND Gallery will be showing from January 21 through 24 at Outsider Art Fair. For more information, click here.
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Sources: The Creator’s Project | All Things Michael