The Outsider Collective: Art Car Derby

The Outsider Collective (OC), an arts community that encourages belonging and creativity for artists of all abilities, has spent a good portion of their summer collaborating with Industrial Design Professors and students of RISD, as well as independent artists to present The Art Car Derby on Sunday, October 15 at The Met. The event will feature uniquely designed pinewood cars racing down a one-of-a-kind art installation track, along with musical performances. This event is made possible through a grant from the Fogarty Foundation.

“This event promises to be an unforgettable celebration of creativity and collaboration,” says OC Director Carrie Hyde-Riley. “Each pinewood car is a work of art in its own right, a testament to the dedication, creativity, and collaborative spirit of the artists involved. The track itself is not just a racecourse; it’s a stunning art installation.”


Although technically a competition, “The Art Car Derby” is more a celebration of the creative  process and the collaborative journey of everyone involved. A group of 25 Outsider artists worked on the cars and track alongside participants from RISD who focused on the design process. Together, they collaborated on everything, from drawing the initial design to making prototypes to crafting the pinewood cars. Hard work and dedication went into each and every step.

“The Art Car Derby is a celebration of artists of all abilities coming together to create something truly extraordinary,” Hyde-Riley explains. “It’s a testament to the power of collaboration, the beauty of art, and the joy of creativity. ”

The project came from Hyde-Riley talking with Hillel O’Leary, a RISD industrial design teacher and member of the OC’s board of directors.  They wanted a way to teach  the design process to the folks at the OC and got to work brainstorming different event ideas. They decided on a PineWood Derby because of the various avenues for artists to get involved, including designing and building the cars and tracks. 

“We applied for a grant from the Fogarty Foundation for this summer programing,” Hyde-Riley explains. “They are a wonderful foundation that grants money for opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  It’s been amazing to have the funding for such a big project.”

Along with the derby there will also be live music provided by STP Orchestra and The Outsiders Percussion Ensemble (OPE). The STP Orchestra, led by Mark Cutler, is part of the Same Thing Project, a songwriting class where a group of people come together to write and record an original song, and often feature unique instruments, including a cajon, mandolin, washtub bass, and kazoo.

OPE is a freeform drum circle that happens every Friday afternoon at OC.  They practice for an hour every Friday and use hand percussion instruments from all over the world.  Whenever they perform they bring all of the instruments and everyone is invited to join in with their percussive beats.

“It’s going to be a great event,” Cutler says. “I’m excited to play some songs with my STP Orchestra.”

Hyde-Riley says that the event is open to the public. The event is free but they will be collecting donations at the door. Hyde-Riley says her hope is that everyone sees a really cool art installation racetrack, enjoys the live music, and even participates in drumming.

“I love what the Outsider Collective represents as well as the Same Thing Project’s partnership with OC,” Cutler says. “Creativity knows no boundaries and this art car derby is a great example.”

“My philosophy is that with more viewpoints, people learn and grow more,” Hyde-Riley says. “It was extremely important to prove that this collaboration would lead to an exchange of design iteration that everyone, including facilitators, could learn from. O’Leary’s students at RISD were also tasked to design cars [over] the past two weeks and have come to the OC to practice making and designing through joy. Their cars will also be part of the race. It’s been really amazing seeing the RISD world come into the Outsider world.”

The Art Car Derby takes place October 15 from 3 – 6 pm at The Met in Pawtucket. For more information: