Raw Art and The Transformative Power of Imagination 

Updated on January 17, 2024 by Meg Pier

Raw Art Explained by Executive Director of Intuit Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

Raw art has been an interest of Debra Kerr for many years. This genre of art is also called Art brut or Outsider Art, meaning it's made outside the academic tradition of fine art.

Since 2014, Debra has served as executive director of Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago. Founded in 1991, Intuit celebrates the power of outsider art, a mission grounded in the ethos that the instinct to create is universal—the arts must embrace and be accessible to all, regardless of education level or socioeconomic status. It specifically highlights the nationally prominent role that Chicago artists and collectors have played in generating interest in Outsider art. Intuit is one of the world’s premier museums of outsider art, the work of artists with little influence from the mainstream art world.

One thing that makes raw art and the people who make it special is their dedication, despite often living with few resources and facing systemic poverty and discrimination. The Intuit believes "our deepest strengths lies embedded within our differences," so they honor the courage and solidarity it takes to acknowledge these differences.

Deb’s passion is for the role museums can play in social good and increasing museum relevance through programming focused on bringing the marginalized into the community. She is excited by opportunities to introduce audiences to unexpected engagement with art and opening each person up to their own untapped creativity.

Enjoy this thought-provoking conversation with Deb Kerr on what we can learn from outsider artists about the transformative power of imagination, creating to create vs needing to have an audience, healing our own pain…and an overview of Intuit’s exhibits!

Next: Tune into this podcast to learn about Smithsonian folk art at the Smithsonian Centre for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Are you intrigued by different cultures around the world?  Looking for the definition of culture? Whether you are a globetrotter or an armchair traveler, if you enjoy learning about the different cultures of the world, then you've come to the right place!

People Are Culture is all about celebrating both our unique differences and the human condition we all share. We do this by exploring real-life authentic examples of cultures. This piece is part of our ongoing series on Folk Art.

Meg Pier

Meg Pier

Publisher and editor of People Are Culture (PAC). This article was created by original reporting that sourced expert commentary from local cultural standard-bearers. Those quoted provide cultural and historical context that is unique to their role in the community and to this article.


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