1937: As an experiment, art teacher Helen Beach approached random people on the streets of Chicago and offered them a free 12-week art course. Among the 75 volunteers who accepted her offer were train guards, an iceman, a school teacher, postmen, a scrubwoman, and policemen. Later that year she exhibited some of the works her students created, offering them as proof that anyone, with a little training, can release their inner artist. Examples below.
Of course, there has to be some selection bias here — weeding out those whose lack of talent was beyond help.
"Flannel Night Gown" by Edna Hirt, housewife
"Sunday Night Supper" by Edith Willett, Sunday-school teacher
"Indian Summer" by John Golden, dogcatcher
"Abstract of Sewing Machine" by Maude Hopkins, (no career specified)
Very recently I traveled to London for the first time and stumbled upon this man named Stephen Wright who’s systematically turning his home into a giant piece of artwork he calls “The House Of Dreams”.
I made a super short film about him and his home, and thought it may be of interest to you and/or your readers Would love to hear your thoughts.
Definitely WU-worthy. In fact, Wright's House of Dreams is a bit like WU itself — a collection of oddities gathered in one place over many years.
The latest example of religious-themed art that's stirring up controversy — a "dartboard Jesus." It was on display at the Rutgers University library, as part of an exhibit of student art, but was taken down recently because, according to campus officials, "it did not meet Rutgers University Libraries policy, which requires art exhibitions and their pieces to be based on university events, curricular offerings and topics of interest to the university community." In other words, it became too controversial.
Following up on Paul's post yesterday about the Electric Pencil. Here's some art created by patients in the criminally insane ward of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Washington D.C., mid-1930s.
A "working model of the fourth dimension," examined by Dr. John E. Lind.
A lion (top) and a man on a horse (bottom), created by a "shellshocked, cop-killing veteran" out of chewed toilet paper, hair from clothes and blankets, and cellophane. "Jealous of his accomplishments, the veteran guards his work as assiduously as a setting hen; it must be taken from him while he is asleep."
A locomotive (top) and "something that looks like a caricature of a capitalist" (bottom) drawn by "a mental 10-year-old."
Source: Newsweek - Jan 9, 1937
Also see the earlier post, Art of the Insane, to compare artwork from patients at St. Anne Hospital in France, mid-1940s.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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