On Insider/ Outsider Art, Notes from the Inside
Editors Note: Jose H. Villarreal is one of several power-FUL PNNPlantation prison correspondents. As currently and formerly incarcerated poor and indigenous peoples in struggle and resistance with all plantation systems in Amerikkka, POOR Magazine stands in solidarity with all folks on the other side of the razor wire plantation.
*Original Artwork by Jose H. Villarreal
I sent a pen pal of mine, who is also an artist, a drawing of a young girl. I drew the girl holding a rose in her hand. My pen pal wrote back thanking me for the “folk art”. This was the first time that I heard this term. The classification between “insider/outsider” art has roots in the contradictions which exist in our society. It is a way to segregate artists along class lines for the most part.
The “elf-taught” artist is often the poor artist, the working class artist and the artist from the underclass (Lumpen). In the U.$. the “insider artist” often translates to the bourgeois artist.
Chican@ Art is thought of to many as outsider Art. To the Chican@ it is simply Art. For Chican@s and our Art, there is no “insider/outsider” Art. We simply have Art, although we have different genres of Art such as AZTLAN REALISM and other less revolutionary art styles.
In my opinion, those who divide art between insider/outsider Art do so because so-called “professional artists” have been formally trained. They create art according to the institutional “art rules”. The shading is done according to the “proper” way, the traditional form which takes its cues from capitalist culture and the ruling class. Whereas the so-called “outsider” creates and shades in their own way, they break rules, they put what some say is too much paint on the brush and they create genres which have not yet been classified.
I believe that at its core, art is or has historically been created for the people. Long before classes were created, art was created, despite the moneyed class having expropriated art. We should not accept this. So-called “outsider” art is people’s art and should be accepted more in museums and galleries or, better yet, those who create this Art should band together and create our own galleries and museums.
Jose H. Villarreal