Deep Focus

A Look Inside “Creative Growth Magazine”

June 8, 2018

Creative Growth Magazine cover by Lateefa Noorzai.

When people live with a developmental disability, they rarely have the chance to see accurate and vivid depictions of their lives and interests in the mainstream media. In 2015, Creative Growth Magazine was founded as a vehicle for the Creative Growth artists to present their work and explore their lives as people with disabilities. Kathleen Henderson, a Creative Growth staffer, and Matt Haber, a journalist and visiting artist, offered our artists an opportunity to create a new publication to showcase their everyday experiences. It was envisioned as a place to tell stories from inside our studio, to highlight the interests and obsessions of our artists, and to offer the larger community a look inside the artists’ lives and work.

The first publication was organized as any general-interest magazine might be, with a travel story, an artist’s portfolio, reports from the field, and a cooking section. Every editorial choice was meant to evoke the day-to-day reality of artists with disabilities, with a healthy dose of playfulness and levity whenever possible.

Artwork by Gerone Spruill. Here, Gerone’s alter ego seduces the girl of his dreams. Included here is his list of 15 things he’d look for in a perfect companion.

“It was envisioned as a place to tell stories from inside our studio and to offer the larger community a look inside the artists’ lives and work.”

Our most recent issue focused on the theme of love and relationships. Since issues of sexuality and romance are often hidden or not discussed in communities of people with disabilities, it was a particular pleasure to see so many of our artists coming forward to share their partnerships, marriages, and love interests with the outside world.

Included here are a few of my favorite pages from past issues, with some sneak peeks at our upcoming edition. Our next cover (above) features a painting by Lateefa Noorzai. Leteefa came to art late in life; she arrived at our studio from Afghanistan just a few years ago. Her self-referential cover image expresses her cultural and religious longings, following her geographic displacement, but it also links her work to the powerful expressions of other self-taught artists.

Artwork by Monica Valentine.

Our next issue also features images of a site-specific installation in our Oakland gallery by Nicole Storm. And since all trendy magazines have lots of ads, we asked John Martin to provide us with his take on the fashion world. He responded by making commercial images unmistakably his own; I think his are more captivating than the originals.

Magazine ad add-ons by John Martin. John Martin favors images of sharks, tools, insects and trucks, and has no hesitation in adding his own artistic touch to fashion ads, making our ad pages a bit more interesting.

Publishing Creative Growth Magazine themselves, adults with developmental disabilities can provide the mainstream culture some glimpses into how they see the world.

Artwork by Casey Byrnes, James Davis and Diana Lo.

Casey, Diana and James answer the question, “What do you love?”