by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

3331 Arts Chiyoda
Closes Dec. 25

Last year, when artists running the art-event space 3331 Arts Chiyoda were commissioned by the Chiyoda Ward Office to organize a project in support of people with disabilities, they decided to create a new category of art. Instead of pidgeonholing works by disabled people with terms such as Art Brut or outsider art, they invented POCORART, short for Place of “Core + Relation ART.” The aim was to create a venue where people, with or without disabilities, could deeply relate to and inpire each other.

The professional curators and artists who judged the first POCORART show earlier this year said they were shocked and amazed by the superb quality of the work they received. Of the 1,028 submissions, most were from mentally disabled people with no formal training or education in art. Riding on the success of the first show, they broadened the reach of this second exhibition further, soliciting applications not just from disabled people but also from children and the elderly.

“Because we were overwhelmed by the power and energy of the artworks last time, we decided to do away with a system that restricted who can submit their works,” said Yuumi Shishido, program management director at 3331 Arts Chiyoda. And this time, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, with the help of two private-sector companies, are co-sponsoring the event with Chiyoda Ward.

Shishido added that, of the total 1,267 entries this year, 90 percent came from disabled people and the rest from able-bodied ones. However, the four judges, three of whom are artists, screened the entries with no knowledge whatsoever of the creators’ backgrounds. The ratio of the 238 selected for display ended up the same as that of the disabled and able-bodied people who entered, she said. “The result is a show that mainly features people with disabilities, but the focus is on art’s power to move people”

Indeed, the diversity and quality of the art is striking. From drawings featuring mind-bogglingly intricate details to refreshingly oversimplified portrayals of subjects, the works range from the vividly colorful to the mysteriously dark. Altogether, it’s an uplifting exposition of humans potential to express themselves. (Tomoko Otake)

3331 Arts Chiyoda is a 5-min walk from Suehirocho Station on the Ginza Line; admission ¥500; open 12 p.m.-7 p.m, closed Tue. For more information, visit www.3331.jp/schedule/001054.html.