Above: Damián Valdés Dilla, Untitled, 2012, Mixed Media (A selection from NAEMI: New Outsider Art From Cuba, January 19 – May 24, Dubois Gallery, Maginnes Hall)
NAEMI is a non-profit organization based in Miami. The organization’s main goal is to discover, study, promote, exhibit and preserve the art of people recovering from mental or emotional illness. In doing so, this organization has been a pioneer in supporting “outsider” art.
The institution began by helping patients channel their creativity through artistic means and drawing the public’s attention to their work. In 1988, Juan Martin worked as a counselor to mentally disabled persons in Miami. He encouraged his patients to create art as a way to distract themselves from their troubles. He came to realize the powerful expressions that were fueled by their unique perspectives. He established NAEMI to promote these unknown artists and to support art as a way of therapy.
The public awareness which NAEMI attracts for these artists assists with their economic independence and at times self confidence. In three decades, NAEMI has accomplished numerous projects. including exhibitions in museums and galleries in the United States, Spain, Belgium, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia and Mexico.
NAEMI has also specialized in a limited number of publications on the art of people recovering from mental or emotional illness. The organization has edited books and catalogs that publicize the artists in the collection and also provide an in-depth understanding of their work. The publications act as a reference for professionals and specialists in this field.
“Let us celebrate the absence of barriers; these pieces are here to be approached by the public in order to admire the expressive sincerity of the artists who create them. Surrender to the surprise and mystery that emerges from the work of these alchemists, who are able to mix everything seen and unseen, known and to be known, before forming a definite shape.” – Juan Martin