Outsiderness' Prolonged Beyond Its Usefulness

"While culture and society have made it a great deal harder for Kevin to be seen as a significant artist, focusing on his outsiderness only prolongs that narrative beyond its usefulness. Even worse it often simplifies our responses to his art as charity or pity. As a working artist, Kevin has earned the freedom to step away from the old "outsider art" narrative and orthodoxy, and move into a realm where his art can do the talking for him. His art seems to be saying, It's not what you think."

that's from Keith Banner, Thunder-Sky, Inc. co-founder, writing about Kevin White's work that can be seen in Out Of Order, the first exhibit at Thunder-Sky, Inc. not by and/or about Raymond Thunder-Sky. I think that Banner brings up some interesting thoughts about integrating the multiple artistic dialogues at work in our community and in the arts generally. Especially the point about pity, which has left me, well, disturbed in the past as I've heard viewers talk about artists at Visionaries and Voices. Keith Banner offers a clear, simple vision: "Outsiderness" may be prolonged beyond its usefulness.

Out of Order: Paintings & Other Creations by David Jarred & Kevin White opens February 26, 2010, with a reception 6 to 10 pm, at Thunder-Sky, Inc. Also that evening, Milan DelVecchio's animated short film based on "Out of Order" works will be screened, and poetry and short stories written in response to the exhibit will be read by creative writing students from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). Thunder-Sky, Inc. is located at 4573 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45223.


  1. Thanks Matt for the blog. This is Keith Banner, from Thunder-Sky, Inc. Just went to New Orleans this weekend and while there visited the New Orleans Museum of Art. On a title-card beside a Jean Dubuffet painting there, the curator defined "outsider art" as (I'm quoting here): "The untrained art of children and the insane." The problem with defining art made by unconventional, untraditional artists is that definers seem doomed to create definitions that are just simple synonyms for "The Real Thing". Meaning: they always seemed hooked on the idea that outsider art is defiintely not insider art. But really art is art is art, and great art always somehow finds its way through the levels of BS. Proof: at the same museum in New Orleans there was a Henry Darger piece hanging in the contmeporary art section. The title-card for this piece did not mention that Darger was an outsider artist. It just listed his name, birth and death dates, and the materials he used. The work alone said everything.

  2. Above: I meant "antonyms." Not "synonyms."

  3. Keith, thanks for commenting and for the really valuable original quote.

    I want to venture a theory about what re-situated Darger. Certainly when I first entered art school, he was still being talk about rigidly as an outsider artist. I saw his work at the American Folk Art Museum a number of years ago and the didactic wall panels used words like eccentric (maybe even crazy). But I think that as his art influenced artists who are working within clearly sanctioned, institutional practices, he was legitimized by association.

    I think this relates to what you are doing with White and Jarred. This is a move towards seeing how these artists operate in the context of one another. I'm excited to see the result.


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