Coalition Ingenu works with mental health
centers and support systems, homeless shelters, and rehabilitation
programs to promote and encourage creativity as a means to
psychological and emotional well-being; and to create a complete system
for the recognition of creative achievement by self-taught artists
marginalized by extraordinary circumstances.
Coalition Ingenu treats all artists with dignity
and respect and works hard to establish relationships of mutual trust
and friendship. For each exhibit, C.I. frames all the work or otherwise
prepares it for presentation; designs, produces and mails invitations
and programs, hangs the artwork, and manages all proceeds and returns.
Proceeds from sales go to the artists with a portion going back into
the program to help cover costs.
1995, Coalition Ingenu has presented over 100
exhibits, displayed over 6000 works of art representing well over 200
self-taught artists, and worked with more than 45 hospitals and
nonprofits from West Chester, PA to Haddonfield, NJ. Many of the
artists have sold artwork to private and corporate collectors, and
selected work and/or articles about the collective have appeared on
calendars, greeting cards, catalogs, murals, CD covers, newspapers,
magazines, numerous web sites, and books.
It has long
been recognized that art making is a valuable therapeutic activity,
allowing the artists opportunities to heal emotional wounds through
self-expression, develop social skills and self-confidence, and build
positive work habits. At the very least, negative thoughts and feelings
are often suspended during the creative process. But genuine
self-esteem seems to involve finding places to "belong" and ways to
contribute to others.
the ability to see something through to completion is a major
breakthrough. For others, a passion is born which results in a clear
and powerful sense of purpose and self-worth.
years since its' inception, Coalition Ingenu
has developed a following among art lovers and mental health consumer
advocates alike. The recent surge in the popularity of art by
"self-taught " artists underscores a collective need in our society
(with its' primary focus on results and efficiency) to rediscover and
preserve an appreciation for the pure process of creativity independent
from a deliberate emphasis on results.
these exhibits are enriched by the striking charm and personality of a
unique kind of artwork not motivated by expectations of fame and
fortune, and not significantly influenced by academic tradition or
preconceived notions of what art is supposed to look like.
of Coalition Ingenu have been generally
precluded from formal training or significant exposure to fine art by
circumstances of extreme poverty or mental illness. But the
inaccessibility of education forces them to draw upon the more creative
method of learning by visualization, experimentation and adjustment.
Although they may not be regarded as masters of skill and technique,
they deserve recognition, by virtue of their independence from academic
training, as masters of the creative process and purveyors of inviolate
Robert Bullock, founder and director of Coalition Ingenu, is a self-taught artist and
muralist. Former positions include: Art Program Coordinator
and facilitator of open studio art classes at Project H.O.M.E., a nonprofit
organization working toward ending the cycle of homelessness. Muralist with the Philadelphia Department of
Recreations' Mural Arts Program for six years, and gallery curator
and director of member services at the Journey Home Community