Newspaper Article

At San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Disability Artwork Makes History, by Jonathan Griffin

2024

Image from At San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Disability Artwork Makes History, by Jonathan Griffin

In 1974, Florence Ludins-Katz and Elias Katz — she an artist, he a psychologist — turned the garage of their Berkeley home into an art studio for adults with developmental disabilities. Across California at that time, people with a range of disabilities were being deinstitutionalized, with little provision made for them after their release. The Katzes viewed art-making as a pathway not only to personal fulfillment for disabled people, but also to their integration into a society that valued their work.

Half a century on, Creative Growth — as the iconoclastic and influential studio in Oakland was named — is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an exhibition, “Creative Growth: The House That Art Built,” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition draws from SFMOMA’s half-million-dollar acquisition of more than 100 Creative Growth artworks, the largest purchase by any American museum of the work of disabled artists. The museum acquired 43 more pieces from Creative Growth’s sister organizations in California, also founded by the Katzes: Creativity Explored in San Francisco and NIAD (Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development) in Richmond.