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Visionary Artists: Pioneers and Dreamers on a Personal Journey

"...visionary art begins by listening to the inner voices of the soul..." American Visionary Art Museum

Visionary artists, also known as outsider artists, are driven by that small, still voice within, urging and driving them to create from the richness of their imagination.  Their art is often unconventional, fantastical, mythical and spiritual in content.  Usually without any formal training, these artists use their intuition, intelligence and strength to explore their inner worlds.

Feeling a spiritual connection to the trees and plant life around her, Bessie Harvey created sculptures from roots, branches, paint, putty, beads and a variety of ordinary materials.  She believed passionately that her work communicated God's love for humanity and had the power to nurture hope and provoke change.

Thornton Dial's sculpture, mixed media and works on paper express his social and political views of the African American experience, global politics, homelessness and the human struggle for freedom and equality.  Recently he explained what art means to him. "Art ain't about paint. It ain't about canvas. It's about ideas. I have found how to get my ideas out and I won't stop. I got ten thousand left."

I admire the courage and passion of these visionary artists to "get their ideas out", often with little resources and despite formidable obstacles.  I feel a kinship with many of them, because I am also driven to express my personal vision and unique view of the world through my work.  Art truly is about ideas and I too, have so many ideas in my mind that I have yet to paint!

The U.S. Congress unanimously voted the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, America's "official national education center, repository and museum for self-taught, intuitive artistry."  It was founded in 1995 by arts leader, educator and philanthropist, Rebecca Alban Hoffberger.  Speaking to the crowd at the Museum's opening in 1995, she stated "It is our hope that you will be inspired to become more open, more sure-footed in your own life's unique possibilities, while being ever more sensitized to the bounty and lessons afforded to us by (our surroundings) to help us on our way."

Two highly respected organizations also dedicated to promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of outsider and visionary artists, are Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art and the Foundation for Self-Taught Artists. Through outstanding educational programming, on-line artists galleries, exhibitions and innovative partnerships, they show us how visionary artists, pioneers and dreamers on a personal journey, can inspire us all.