Creative Growth: The Self Taught Genius of Creative Growth

May 18th - July 20th, 2019

Nina Johnson is pleased to announce Gifted, the self-taught genius of Creative Growth, a group show of new work by the artists of Creative Growth, the oldest and largest nonprofit art studio for artists with developmental, mental, and physical disabilities. The show of 41 artists will be curated by Kim Hastreiter, the founder of Paper magazine and collector of Creative Growth artists for the past twenty-five years. The exuberant spirit of Gifted is reflected in the opening party for the exhibition: a summer block party replete with BBQ and a DJ on May 18th, 4-8PM.

This joyful and vibrant exhibition will span all three gallery spaces at Nina Johnson and showcase Hastreiter’s favorite working artists at Creative Growth, reflecting the wide range of artists marginalized by disability. Gifted forms a powerful argument against the ghettoization and othering of these so-called “outsider artists,” who are so often treated as novelty footnotes in the greater cultural dialogue. The artists from Creative Growth remind us that creativity is a universal, human impulse—not one dictated by ability or education.

“The word ‘disability’ is often defined as ‘working with less’, but when I see the art produced at Creative Growth, it occurs to me, that it is actually filled with more: more freedom, more imagination, and most of all, more truth. Their disabilities may have forced them to live in a world outside of and very different from ours—by definition the world of the artist,” said curator Kim Hastreiter.Across a variety of media, these artists are uniquely able to tap into a purity of expression that isn’t affected by an art market or exhibitions. In some cases, particularly where the artist is non-verbal, these creative outlets are the only way these artists are able to express themselves. Here, Hastreiter’s expertise and intimate knowledge gives these artists their proper due, recognizing their individual visionary artistry.

“I fell in love with the artwork coming out of Creative Growth because of Kim. Bringing this work to Miami is a cultural exchange that matches the vibrancy of the setting. This show captures the diversity, energy, and the importance of the work these artists are doing, and I hope to help integrate these artists into the contemporary art conversation in Miami,” said Nina Johnson.

The group show is massive in proportion, and an opportunity to witness the perspective of 41 artists. The upstairs gallery is entirely dedicated to colorful and evocative portraits, a nod to the “Face Wall” Hastreiter has in her home. Throughout, the pieces glow with unmediated humanity. At once bittersweet and transcendent, they remind the viewer of art’s emancipatory potential.


Special thank you to our friends at I’ve Been Framed.