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Autism and outsiderism: The art of George Widener

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Until recently, Outsider Art has escaped the examination that has been given other colonialist labels, such as Orientalism and Primitivism. Contemporary artists, such as George Widener, who slip in between mainstream and Outsider artworlds, pose lingering questions about this category. As an autistic artist, Widener also upends the misrepresentations about the spectrum in both the artworld and art education. I suggest that although Widener does not serve as a representative of the autistic or Outsider Art communities, he does serve as an example of entrenched notions of art and disability in these worlds. In this article, I ask how labels might be discarded so that we can enjoy artists who tell us about the neuro-diverse interior of individuals. Removed from outwardly imposed categories, we might re-imagine art in society and art in schools.
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Keywords: Outsider Art; art education; artworld; autism; colonialism; self-taught art

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000086114981 State University of New York at New Paltz, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The International Journal of Education through Art is an English language journal that promotes relationships between art and education. The term 'art education' should be taken to include art, craft and design education. Each issue, published three times a year within a single volume, consists of peer-reviewed articles mainly in the form of research reports and critical essays, but may also include exhibition reviews and image-text features.

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