Call for Artists: Outside Forces: Outsider Art Inside the Beltway 2020

By Editorial Team on June 8, 2020

Deadline: Wed, 15 July 2020

Image credit: Eric Atkinson, Being Selfish


Deadline: July 15



Art Enables,Washington, DC’s only nonprofit art gallery and supported employment program dedicated to creating opportunities for adult visual artists with disabilities, is excited to announce its 14th annual exhibition highlighting the work of self-taught artists.

We look forward to continuing the tradition of this show championing and promoting outsider art; however, due to social distancing efforts, this year’s exhibition will take place solely online. Artists will not be required to provide physical work.

Please note: this exhibition is not limited to artists with disabilities. If you identify as a self-taught or outsider artist, you may submit. See below for more information.

This is a juried exhibition. Artists are asked to submit up to five works through the online application (linked above).

Important Dates
Submission deadline: July 15, 2020
Notification of Acceptance: by August 1, 2020
Artist agreements and high quality images due: August 15, 2020
Online exhibition goes live: September 12, 2020
Exhibition “closing”: October 31, 2020

The term “Outsider Art” may call to mind a number of concepts, many that have been historically debated. Defined in the strictest sense, it may include only artists who work in extreme isolation, have little to no contact with other artists and art institutions, and who may not even have a concept of their own work as art. Today, with outsider art gaining popularity and recognition, and under the ever-present influence of the internet, the term is often (sometimes controversially) used more broadly: focusing on self-taught artists without requiring its creators to be completely unaware of art at large. While an exact definition of Outsider Art can be difficult to pin down, one often feels they know it when they see it: inventive work of extreme individuality motivated by the artist’s own personal concepts and desires, rather than the expectations of the mainstream art world. Art Enables embraces these more expansive parameters in “Outside Forces,” presenting work by artists who may not have had many opportunities to exhibit. Featured artists include individuals who are emerging and self-taught, are from traditionally underrepresented communities, and those with disabilities. All have paved their own way in the formation of their work, representing personal experiences and interests in individual styles developed outside the conventions of mainstream art education and culture.

This exhibition began in 2006 as a way for DC-area groups working with self-taught artists to exhibit together. Over the last 14 years, the exhibition’s success has seen it grow to span all three exhibition spaces at Art Enables, featuring artists from across the nation alongside our resident artists. The show continues to be an excellent introduction for a community curious about outsider art, looking to start their own collection with a selection of affordable work in a wide array of styles.

Questions? Email