Developmental Disabilities

CONNECTS Fellow: Maggs Hanson

“Coming here and interacting with these artists who all working with these different methods and approaches…it’s inspiring. It’s mind-opening. It’s a really comforting environment for me to be in. I really appreciate and benefit from how different it is from the heavy stress of academia.”

– Maggs Hanson, CCA CONNECTS Fellow


Fellowship Description

Maggs Hanson acted as a teaching assistant and mentor to developmentally-disabled artists at NIAD (Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development) Art Center for two years. Getting to work at NIAD for multiple years allowed her to build strong relationships with the artists and understand their needs and methods. She was also able to expand her role to working in the gallery and curating her own show. She won a Center micro-grant to install a show focusing on mental health that brought outside emerging artists together with NIAD artists.

CONNECTS Qualities

This Connects Fellowship is an example of:

Maggs described the effect working at NIAD had on her artistic practice:

“It’s a great space to come from when I’m going into my studio. Cause then I can just be really focused on the pure artistic creation, and not as bogged down in concept or theory or worry about making work for an audience.”

Impact Statement

Site Mentor, Judith Zoon (L) and CCA Fellow, Maggs Hanson (R) share how CONNECTS impact them and their community:

“Maggs serves as a role model for working artists. Her outside point of view is refreshing and she helps the artist articulate their creative experience.”

“This position expanded my experience and familiarity with a diversity of artists outside the art school institution.”


Creativity Explored

Working as studio teaching assistants, CONNECTS Externs cultivate individualized projects geared towards the skills and interests of developmentally disabled CE artists

Organization Description:

Creativity Explored provides supportive studio environments and art materials for adults with developmental disabilities to use for the creation of art that is personally rewarding and appreciated by others. At Creativity Explored, art is a captivating means of challenging and transforming assumptions about disability. Creativity Explored works with community by increasing awareness of the value and diversity of artistic expression in the Bay Area.

The most rewarding aspect of working at Creativity Explored  is being a part of a loving community of artists who are given the space, materials, and opportunity to have a visual voice to create, learn, and sell their art. – Iesha Anglin, MFA, 14-15 CONNECTS Extern

Externship Description:

As studio teaching assistants externs build relationships with the artists at Creativity Explored, and learn to understand their tendencies, skills, and interests. Externs facilitate the creation of art by adults with developmental disabilities, and conceive of projects that challenge the artists to build and develop their creative practice. Within this role externs gain experience with studio space facilitation, adaptive strategies, and project management.

Our extern is a really engaged and thoughtful person who brings sophisticated concepts to CE artists in a manner that they can understand. – Francis Kohler, CE2 Studio & Services Manager/ Visual Arts Instructor at Creativity Explored.



Interdisciplinary art students collaborated with developmentally disabled artists working at Creativity Explored in San Francisco to put their concepts into action.

Project Objective:

In “Fabricators,” students participated in approaches to arts education through collaboration with developmentally disabled artists and their instructors. In “Fabricators” students build relationships with peer artists from Creativity Explored. Creativity Explored artists act as the design experts while ENGAGE students work to turn their artistic vision into a reality. This class offered students a unique opportunity to consider the social interconnections between art, arts education, and industry through real world projects that culminated in a final exhibition by the artists at Creativity Explored.

Lia Wilson’s review “Fabricators: Blurring the Insider/Outsider Boundary” reflected on the importance of the show:

Fabricators refuses to let outdated and romanticized assumptions about ‘pure original artistic vision’ cling to Creativity Explored artists, and instead endows them with the basic respect and agency of directorial control.

Project Outcome(s):

The ENGAGE course concluded with an exhibition of works by a survey of artists from Creativity Explored and incorporated student writings for the exhibition contexts. “Fabricators” enrollees were responsible for formatting a final project summary report that included a narrative, key images, and analysis of their collaboration on a real world project with Creativity Explored.

Fabricators: Blurring the Insider/ Outsider Boundary  by Lia Wilson (Published in Daily Serving, December 2012)

Special thanks to the Creativity Explored Artists included in the final exhibition

Camille Holevoet | Christina Chong | Thanh Diep | Lance Rivers | Natalie Spring