Creativity Explored

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Creativity Explored's mission is to advance the value and diversity of artistic expression. Creativity Explored provides artists with developmental disabilities the means to create, exhibit, and sell their art in our studios and gallery, and around the world.

Founded by Florence Ludins-Katz and Elias Katz in 1983 a second studio site was opened in 1995 to provide adults with severe disabilities an opportunity to create visual art.

Since 2001 an on-site gallery has provided the public the opportunity to view work exhibited in a professional setting. Gallery programming now includes six diverse exhibitions per year with more than 15,000 people visiting the gallery and studio annually. Readers of the SF Weekly and Bay Guardian have consistently voted Creativity Explored Best Art Gallery in the Bay Area.

Many Creativity Explored studio artists have developed meaningful arts practices and are now becoming increasingly recognized for their contributions to the contemporary art world. In addition to participating in numerous group exhibitions in the Bay Area, Creativity Explored artists have had one-person gallery shows in New Zealand and Australia. Several artists’ work has been included in international group exhibitions, as well as in commercial and nonprofit venues across the nation. Most recently, nine Creativity Explored artists were exhibited in UC Berkeley Art Museum’s traveling group exhibition, Create, which was selected as one of San Francisco Chronicle Art Critic Kenneth Baker’s top ten exhibits in 2011. [1]


3245 16th Street, San Francisco

Contact Information

(415) 863-2108


Florence Ludins-Katz and Elias Katz

Dates of Operation


Type of Space


Community Served

Artist with developmental disabilities

Additional Information and Resources

Oral History Interview

WHAT: As a part of the upcoming SOMArts exhibition Making a Scene: 50 Years of Alternative Bay Area Spaces, we interviewed communications associate Charlotte Miller Russell about the role and identity of Creativity Explored as an alternative art space that supports artists with developmental disabilities, the artists who use and exhibit within the space, the work they produce, and the general relevance of alternative art spaces to the Bay Area art scene.

[Michael Fontana] What circumstances led to the founding of Creativity Explored? [Charlotte Miller Russell] The impetus for the founding of Creativity Explored was the passing of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act in 1969 in California, an act which defines the rights of persons with developmental disabilities and establishes a service system to meet the individualized needs of consumers and when appropriate, their families, throughout the state.

Believing that all people have the ability to create, and that visual artistic expression is a viable means to enhance personal identity and growth, Florence Ludins-Katz and Elias Katz founded Creativity Explored in 1983. Our second studio site was opened in 1995 to provide adults with severe disabilities an opportunity to create visual art.

[MF] How does Creativity Explored constitute and function as an alternative space?

[CMR] Creativity Explored is a unique alternative space because it functions both as a public place to serve artists with developmental disabilities but it also functions as an open space for the general public to view art exhibitions, engage with working artists in the studio, and participate in classes and workshops.

[MF] Within the context of Bay Area alternative spaces, what stands out about Creativity Explored and other alternative spaces that support artists with developmental disabilities? [CMR] Since its inception 30 years ago, Creativity Explored’s innovative and respected programs, structure, and culture have served as an organizational model worldwide in the field of art and disability.

The CE studios are supported group environments. CE’s studios are open to the public allowing visitors to see the process and meet the person behind the work. By encouraging the community to interact with the artists, and view art by people with developmental disabilities and judge it on its own merit, Creativity Explored is changing perspectives—and hopefully eliminating negative pre-conceived notions about art and disability.

[MF] Does the work produced by artists at Creativity Explored produce particular themes with regard to artistic content, message, or voice?

[CMR] We are committed to supporting people with developmental disabilities in their quest to become working artists, and to promoting their work as an emerging and increasingly important contribution to the contemporary art world.

Creativity Explored provides a supportive studio environment for artists with developmental disabilities in which they receive individualized instruction from mentoring artists, quality art materials, and professional opportunities to exhibit their work.By developing a meaningful art practice and creating a body of work, Creativity Explored artists acquire an expanded sense of self, realizing their potentials, amplifying their voices, and more fully establishing themselves in the world.

At Creativity Explored, art is a captivating means of challenging and transforming assumptions about disability. The beauty, depth and humor of the work provokes fresh perspectives and fosters new regard for the personal vision and artistic ability of artists with developmental disabilities.

The exhibition: Making a Scene: 50 Years of Alternative Bay Area Spaces is on view from July 9th – August 20th, 2015.

About the Author: Michael Fontana is a Communications Intern for SOMArts Cultural Center and a undergraduate student at Oberlin College.[2]

About this Article

This article was originally created as part of SOMArts Cultural Center's Making a Scene: 50 Years of Alternative Bay Area Spaces. To learn how to add or edit content please visit the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism's online History Collection Lab.


  1., 6-26-15
  2. 7-1-15