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When viewing art, we are mostly aware of our dialog with it.   What do we see?  What feelings does it raise in us?  What is our response to it?  Wilson Yates, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of United teaches there are also two other dialogs present – the dialog the artist had with the work while creating it and consequently, the dialog we have with the artist through the work of art. 

Jimmy Reagan has a strong investment in those last two conversations, as making art is the major way he communicates with the world around him.  His inspirations for art are mostly about what he experiences on any given day and how he can tell others about those experiences.  That’s what artists do, right?  For Jimmy, however, that dynamic is complicated by autism spectrum disorder, a condition which was diagnosed when he was a toddler.  Because the disorder affects his ability to use words, one of Jimmy’s tutors suggested art an alternate form of self-expression and art became Jimmy’s way of communicating his joys, fears, curiosity and his sense of humor.  Says Jimmy,

“I love color.  By using small "tick" marks and blocks of color, I create emotion and beauty in my pictures.  I find joy in my work and my art allows me to communicate with others without using words.  The viewer learns about me through my pictures.”

While Jimmy hasn’t had formal training in the rules of artmaking, he does have an assistant, Jeff Anderson, who helps him explore and expand his self-expression.  Being ‘classically’ trained in art, Jeff says,“I did not want to adversely affect the true Outsider Artist vision that makes him (Jimmy) so special. I believe I am learning as much from Jimmy as he is learning from me. “

United is a community where one learns to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ through the lens of theology and the arts.  Engaging in Jimmy’s art, certainly brings a clarity to that conversation.

Jimmy has gained international recognition for his art and has his work hung in public places in the Twin Cities.  Check out Jimmy's website to learn more!

Max Brumberg-Kraus

Max Brumberg-Kraus is a 2020 alum of United, with an MA in Theology and the Arts. Max also works in marketing at United as a Digital Content Specialist. Max is a performing artist and writer in Saint Paul, MN, and a proud member of the queer artist scene.

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