The Palo Alto Art Center is pleased to present The Art of Disability Culture: Artists with Disabilities Dispelling Myths, Dissolving Barriers, and Disrupting Prejudice, on view through December 11, 2021. At the heart of this exhibition is a robust celebration of the diverse, personal, and infinitely varied “disability experience.”
Each of the 20 artists featured has one or more disabilities, whether visible or invisible, and the exhibition centers upon their creativity, vulnerability, and unique perspectives. The exhibition celebrates how disability culture can strengthen our communities through the practices of interdependence, accessibility, and inclusion.
Work in the exhibition ranges from mixed-media pieces by Katherine Sherwood, who had to re-imagine her painting practice after a stroke, to a series of tactile paintings created during the height of the pandemic by artist Catherine Lecce-Chong, who lost her vision suddenly in 2018. The exhibition also includes an audio comic by Chad Allen, ceramics from blind potter Don Katz, a site-specific environmental installation by Jennifer Justice, a healing labyrinth installation by blind artist Maia Scott, and a large-scale sculpture made from discarded materials by Palo Alto artist Matthaus Lam. Other artists in the show include: Bill Bruckner, Jeremy Burleson, Lawrence Choy, Sky CubaCub, Shana Harper, Camille Holvoet, Antoine Hunter, Cedric Johnson, Michaela Oteri, Otis Smith, Anthony Tusler, Rachel Ungerer, and Jennifer White-Johnson.
The Art of Disability Culture exhibition will feature numerous accessibility components to ensure that the broadest possible audience can experience the exhibition and related programs. Audio descriptions will be available for all works of art on view and will also be accessible on the website. Braille labels and audio descriptions will also be available for deaf/blind visitors. Public programs will include American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and live captioning. Social narratives will also be provided and available online for visitors with autism.
One in four Americans has a disability. And yet, more than 30 years after the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), people with disabilities still face discrimination, prejudice, ableism, and omission. The art in The Art of Disability Culture explores many of these challenges, and also the defiant, creative, and resilient responses of this incredible and diverse community.
Guest curator Fran Osborne shares, “Far from presenting a single monolithic point of view, the artists in the exhibition generously share their own experience and the complexity of their disability identity. Some of the works aim to soothe and heal, and some may provoke us into rethinking our priorities and reflect upon what we can all do to make our world more authentic, accessible, and inclusive.”
The exhibition will include artwork from Bay Area studio programs that have supported and mentored artists with a broad range of abilities, including NIAD, Creative Growth, Creativity Explored and Palo Alto’s AbilityPath.