Creative Growth Art Center

Creative Growth Art Center was founded by Elias and Florence Katz in 1974. Operating in a former car-body shop near downtown Oakland, California, Creative Growth provides studios, gallery space, and supplies to more than 150 artists with developmental, mental, and physical disabilities, who work in a wide array of media. Predicated on the belief that art is fundamental to human expression and that all people are entitled to its tools of communication, Creative Growth is an incubator of artistic activity that has fostered exemplary artists, such as Dan Miller, Judith Scott, William Scott, and Monica Valentine.

An outgrowth of the Bay Area grassroots collectivism and disability-rights movement of the 1970s, the nonprofit Creative Growth Art Center is currently run by the filmmaker and former curator, Tom di Maria. The organization’s success challenges society’s assumptions about inclusion and exclusion in art and culture, disability visibility, and access to creative expression as a human right; like any other contemporary artists, Creative Growth artists use art to tell their stories.

Creative Growth artists have had major exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (Judith Scott, 2018); Venice Biennale (Dan Miller and Judith Scott, 2017); Brooklyn Museum (Judith Scott, 2015); Museum of Modern Art (Dan Miller, 2008); and White Columns (William Scott, 2009, 2006). Creative Growth Art Center is located in Oakland, California.

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Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with Love and Loss

Art21 Educator, Ty Talbot, shares a playlist of films that explore notions of love and loss that he curated for his high school classroom.

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with Community

Art21 Educator Miranda Best shares a playlist of films that informed her unit on “Community,” inspiring student’s artwork and representing the strength and significance of group bonds.

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Harnessing the Penchant for Play

Art21 Educator, Maureen Hergott, shares a lesson designed to inspire students to engage their imagination and construct artworks inspired by the human form.

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Making Important Choices

Educator Joe Fusaro illustrates how contemporary art and artists can have a local and global effect through the lens of works by Creative Growth Art Center, Olafur Elliason and Robin Rhode.

Deep Focus

Biography is Complicated

Curator Catherine Morris surveys the career of Judith Scott, a celebrated Creative Growth Art Center artist with developmental disabilities.

Deep Focus

A Look Inside “Creative Growth Magazine”

A look inside the pages of “Creative Growth Magazine,” a first-of-its-kind publication presenting the work and lives of artists with disabilities, in the words of the artists themselves.


We don’t teach in a traditional way. We say: what would you like to do, what are you thinking about, what did you dream about, what kind of color do you like? Tell us your story.

Tom di Maria, Director of Creative Growth Art Center