Good news, though… we are in a new paradigm! This is exactly the time to embrace change, to keep moving forward with what’s working, and to throw out the rest to allow space for the new. What needs to happen is that everyone from individual to institution needs to step up in their social relationships and advocate for the representation of ill and disabled artists. This goes for the presentation of their work on a professional level, and in the day-to-day advocacy required to navigate community systems. This is a request for disability to be more than a community to be “othered”, but to be treated as part of YOUR community.
One of the main reasons I got my MFA was because I recognized in myself a potential to achieve a goal that I was committed to wholeheartedly, to be an artist of worth. I recognized that skills in the arts were primarily being used to assist disabled populations in ways that were cathartic (surely of value) but not necessarily aimed at the kind of transcendence that all great works of art carry… the ability to shape a culture. I believed in the importance of art as a tool to transform the minds of a population, and I saw the need for a voice in the community that could embody these unique hardships and translate them through aesthetics. This vision required a platform as well, and so I relied on the strength of my conviction and artistic prowess, reaching out to fellow creatives and producing works of personal and communal significance. I’ve never given myself the credit to call this “community building”, but it’s true this was and is… a common thread of dedication to a shared impulse to create our world together for a moment, or maybe for years, outside of institutional walls.
Outside of art, I continue to speak up and advocate on so many levels in my personal life, from health care, to work environments, to relationships. I take ten minutes, or an hour, to hand my lense to others so that they might see my view for a while. What it is that I envision for the future? I see a vibrant community conversation around chronic health problems and disability, so that disability is no longer socially disabling. I would like to build a world where people will come to see the work of disabled artists because it’s moving and noteworthy, and because they WANT to. This is not a chapter I’ve experienced yet, but one we can write together.
Peace and creative love.