Blog

Detail of work by artist, Sage Willow

I’m excited to be invited by Tangled Art + Disability to host a round table discussion at their upcoming symposium Cripping the Arts, April 28-30th. I’m humbled to be part of this 3 day event which includes an amazing and powerful group of disability artists and disability arts leaders in the community to discuss various approaches to changing the way art can and “should” be experienced. I will be hosting a group conversation responding to the question: “What can disability aesthetics can do?”.

For more information about the symposium, visit: http://tangledarts.org/cripping-the-arts-symposium-2016/

Group selfie of participants at the Art Mechanics Lab

I just trilled to be invited by Tangled Art + Disability to present as part of their Art Mechanics Lab workshop series. AML is split up into 8 professional development workshops catered to disability identified artists, who are interested in better navigating their place in the arts sector. My presentation involved opening up a conversation about what it means to create a presence as an artist or designer in today’s art landscape.

People painting large wooden boxes

Project Creative Users, an exciting and creative side arts project I manage, just recently underwent a two day intensive Think Tank with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. The Think Tank was organized for the purpose of gathering artists with disabilities in the city of Toronto to talk about ways that Project Creative Users can participate in making art development and art engagement more accessible. Our goal for the weekend was to start to put together a 3 to 5 year strategic plan that will help steer Project Creative Users in the right direction towards successfully meeting the needs of people with disabilities.

We also launched the second ambitious group arts installation, Crip Interiors, October 3rd, 2015 as part of Nuit Blanche Toronto. For more information about Project Creative Users and to see images of the show, visit: creativeusers.net

Close up of a person's eye

It felt like a flash of light, being part of such an incredible exhibition organized by the Doris McCarthy Gallery, Justina Barnicke, and University of Toronto. Curated by Amanda Cachia, Flesh of the World ran from June 25-October 10, 2015 and was displayed across three major gallery spaces in Toronto and Scarborough. You can see the work I did and other artists work that was part of the show here.

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I’m excited to be showing some new work as part of the emerging artists group show Proof 21 at Gallery 44 starting June 20 and running until July 26th. This work will present a series of video portraits that parodies a culture of repetitive self-representation within online media using bodies of difference and queer bodies as a way of examining the impact they have on negotiating institutional portrayals of beauty, sexuality and normalcy. For information about the artists involved in the show go to: http://www.gallery44.org/proof21

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I’ve begun sketching and brainstorming for a t-shirt series that aims to celebrate and support the history of crip identity and activism. I am seeing more and more around me, the resonation of crip culture as a social movement mobilizing in ways that are changing the way we think about difference and disability. Artists, community activists and writers with disabilities and non-disabilities are more publicly engaged than ever with the desire to reject ableist thinking and to represent difference in positive and empowering ways. My intention with this project is to produce a series of t-shirts that represent present and past figures that inspire this movement. The above graphic is an illustration of artist Alison Lapper who challenged the world with her provocative self-portraiture as well as with her contribution as a subject to the famous nude sculpture created by Marc Quinn that stood in Trafalgar Square from 2005-2007.

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Thanks to the Ontario Arts Council Artists in the workplace/Community Arts Program, Project Creative Users has been approved for funding to launch a research and development phase! Creative Users is a community arts project that will combine the work and ideas of artists, disability activists, and community members to critically examine cultural understandings of accessibility through an exploration of what it means to be a “user” in the environments we inhabit. We play with the word “user”, a term used in inclusive design practices wherein disabled people are commonly referred to as “extreme users”. This project will see disabled and non-disabled people come together to think about how we currently use social space and how we can use creativity to change both the built environment and the way we think about space towards the ends of creating more accessible communities. In this way, we use the arts to open up a creative conversation about accessibility, a topic so often talked about in strictly bureaucratic terms.

The video below titled “How to paint your nails perfectly”, is a collaborated effort between project coordinators Eliza Chandler and myself. It offers a beginning to this exciting project and leaves a question to consider. We look forward to keeping you posted on upcoming developments!