Female cult leaders, clay creatures and pink rooms: highlights from this year’s Outsider Art Fair in New York


The Outsider Art Fair’s 31st edition has brought 64 galleries’ stands of work from self-taught, folk, naïve and outsider artists—including 12 first-time exhibitors—to New York’s Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. As ever, the fair is a rich and eclectic offering; below are five stand-out presentations.

A depiction of Bonnie Nettles, part of Alexandria Deter’s False Prophet series. Courtesy Bill Arning Exhibitions

From Bill Arning Exhibitions in Houston, artist Alexandria Deter’s False Prophet series of mixed-media embroidery works depicts female cult leaders linked to killings. Deter began work on the series after watching several crime documentaries. It depicts cult figures including Bonnie Nettles from Heaven’s Gate; Karen Zerby, who leads a cult called The Family International; and Hak Ja Han Moon, a leader in the Unification Church. Pieces from the series range from $350 to $1,500, and the gallery is offering a discount for customers who purchase more than one.

A sculpture by Shinichi Sawada Courtesy Outsider Art Fair

Japanese sculptor Shinichi Sawada’s anthropomorphic creatures attracted attention at Jennifer Lauren Gallery’s stand during the fair’s VIP viewing. Sawada, who has autism and is nonverbal, has never specified what inspires his sculptures, though many of them resemble images from Japanese mythology and there is speculation that some of the more animal-like figures may have been based on the wildlife—like frogs—Sawada sees during his walks to the rural studio he works from several times a week. Sawada’s second US solo exhibition will open Saturday (4 March) at Manhattan’s James Cohan Gallery; his sculptures figured prominently in the central exhibition of the 2013 Venice Biennale, curated by Massimiliano Gioni.

Emilia Galatis Projects from Australia specialises in work by Indigenous people, and her stand at the Outsider Art Fair features pieces from May Wokka and Doreen Chapman, mother-and-daughter artists whose large, colourful canvases draw inspiration from their experiences as Indigenous people in Australia. Galatis works as an Indigenous arts development specialist in Australia, and said most of the work she’s displaying at the Outsider Art Fair is priced under $2,500.

Scott Csoke’s Gay Flowers on a Gay Table (2023) Courtesy Alexander DiJulio

At Alexander DiJulio’s stand, Brooklyn artist Scott Csoke’s saturated paintings of domestic scenes feature loose brushstrokes and lots of hot pink. Works on view have cheeky titles like Tiny Gay Room (2023) and Gay Flowers on a Gay Table (2023). Most prices for Csoke’s work range from $2,000 to $3,0000.

Artist Emitte Hych (1909-2009), spent the first three decades of his life living in rural Mississippi and working as a sharecropper and at a sawmill before moving north in his 30s to become a cook. Dozens of his bold, colourful paintings of animals (mostly dogs) and several depicting human figures are available at The Pardee Collection’s stand, where they mostly range from $800 to $1,250 apiece.

  • Outsider Art Fair, until 5 March, Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York


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