In 1973, Creative Growth in Oakland, California was the first independent visual arts center for severely disabled adults in the U.S. Today, it continues to provide creative art programs, educational and independent living training, counseling and vocational opportunities for over 120 adults who are physically, mentally and emotionally disabled.

Portrait of woman in glasses wearing a knit cap

Dorothy Doran, Creative Growth, Oakland, 2001
Dorothy spoke of kittens and how their soft fur feels on her fingertips. She died last year.

man with mouth wide open

Carl Hendrickson, Creative Growth, Oakland, 2001 Carl always got excited when he saw the camera; he would drop his tools and crawl on his hands and knees toward me. At that time, he was working on building himself a new chair made of wood and a folding lunch try on which two words are inscribed: YES and NO.

young man with curly hair looking straight at viewer

Luis Aguilera, Creative Growth, Oakland, 2001 Luis was involved in several romantic relationships that often distracted him from making art and kept him preoccupied with his girlfriends’ jealous outbursts, tears and kisses.

man wearing Disney cap staring past viewer

Allan Lofberg, Creative Growth, Oakland, 2001
Allan often wore his Disneyland cap and would spend hours staring into space. Whenever he felt the presence of the camera, he would smile nervously, grab a crayon and pretend to be busy drawing. As soon as I would walk away, he would stop, fold his hands as in the photo and return to his usual behavior.

South African boy standing at a hole in chainlink fence

Little man, Guguletu township, South Africa, 2001
Under apartheid black men were allowed to work in the cities but had to leave their families behind in homelands. Employers provided them rooms in hostels. Since 1994, these mens’ wives and children have joined them, and entire families now live in single rooms.

Jamaican girl standing behind chainlink fence

Schoolgirl, Port Maria, Jamaica, 2000

shirtless man working on a sculpture

A self-taught sculptor, Port Antonio, Jamaica, 2000