Portland, ME

Contact Name
Liz Mortati
Project Dates
January 2012-
The Art Department was started in January 2012 in an effort to bring together local outsider artists with developmental disabilities, in a shared space to promote their work, share their stories and their vision. The intention was to create a space where all artists would be "outsiders", and work would be shared and respected no matter what the qualifications of the artist. We hold a different show every month, with an incredibly vast range of non traditional themes, open to everyone. We hold 'music nights' with local musicians, collaborate on community engagement projects with local colleges and artists, make video projects, and interactive art projects for every art show. Our goal is to promote a healthy community built on acceptance of 'differently-abled' artists of all shapes and sizes
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
To create a community based on inclusion, acceptance, and to encourage learning about populations that may be misunderstood, as we all have something to contribute to our arts community and the world at large.
Have they changed over time?
Yes, we have included more activities in the community
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
Creative Trails, and Support Solutions
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
Proposal to Creative Trails Director, growth through artists committed to creating art here, staff committed to supporting the artists, and community acceptance through the art itself
Have they been refined over time?
What were your major obstacles?
The population we work with can be very intimidating sometimes. There is much we as a society choose to ignore, and choose to put into boxes because it makes difference and disability easier to confront.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Positivity! As well as the art work itself. The art changes people, and creates a feeling of truthfulness, honesty, and eagerness to gain the insight that a lot of our artists have.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Create an atmosphere that is inclusive and encourages questions
Always stay positive and keep the doors open to any collaboration or opportunity
Allow the artists to be the spokespeople for the cause
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
By encouraging acceptance of all artists and skill levels to engage in a conversation about their work and their vision in equal ways.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
Our current state has exceeded my original goals
Were there unexpected impacts?
The unbelievable amount of people who have come in expecting one thing, and get something entirely different. Given the talent and body of work with so many of our artists, many people expect something unlike the atmosphere they walk into. Our space exudes a carefree attitude, an earnestness, a casualness, and a level of accessibility that is not often found in traditional galleries.