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Crippen asks ‘what is happening to the Disability Arts Movement?’ / 17 October 2009

Has anyone else noticed that we’re in danger of slipping back to where we all started from?!

I’ve always seen the Disability Arts Movement as being in the vanguard of the Disabled People’s Movement. As Disabled artists we’ve focused upon our oppression and expressed this through our art. Together we’ve used the Social Model to identify and then confront the many barriers within society that conspire to disable us; the key word being ‘together’.

However, of late I’ve seen a slide back to the early days when we were all split up into impairment groups. You know the sort of thing; mobility impaired to the left, visually impaired to the right, learning disabled over there, Deaf people … well, you get the idea. And along with each impairment group came its organisation ‘for’ and its own route for funding etc.

Disability Arts focus seems to have got a bit wooly over recent years and it seems more about blending in with the mainstream and not making our unique stand as Disabled artists any more.

Or is it me? … I’m sure you’ll let me know!

Keywords: disability art,disabled people's movement,social model,visual art,



22 October 2009

Thanks for your comments folks(the one's that have commented), but I'm suprised at the lack of response from other in the Disability Arts world. Don't you have anything to say?!


20 October 2009

I think "pink pjs" may have a point.

View(s) from NYC:

I have had an internal ongoing discussion about being a professional artist with disabilities since the early to mid1980s. I like writing about and networking with other professional artists with all kinds of disabilities. At the same time, I have liked continuing my art career as an ARTIST. Like Spike Lee, the

filmmaker who is African-American, says,

"I want to be known as a filmmaker, not the black filmmaker.". I relate to that.

I have been involved with networking with other artists who are disabled since April, 1985 and have, as of this month,

done #277 "Report to Artists" (an onpaper

"blog" that I began in Dec.1985). My spouse points out that I have done several more "special reports" that are not in the numbered series. Short list.

Becoming disabled midway through my art career (more or less, my math skills are wrecked by disability), I immediately noticed that the art world had a layer of discrimination about disability. It mimics the prejudice in the mainstream, community-at-large against people with disabilities. The larger society prejudice was well described in

"Disability Rag" magazine,in the late 1980s, now an online

version is "Ragged Edge" (google).

I became an activist for disability rights (including wheelchair access as I need to use one for CFS/ME, in my infrequent trips out of my apartment, as can), as well as gadfly to groups "hosting" art by artists with disabilities. I loathe jurying of art.

(I have discussed this in another comment on this site, I think.) Already familiar

with prejudice as a woman artist, with some similar stereotypes around "quality"

(if you use that word near me, I'll scream)...For some good laughs, google the feminist art group, Guerilla Girls,

video and art.

Finally (I hope. CFS/ME is the ps disease; I named it): there has been the tendency in the US to "medicalize" disability and the world of "charities" in the US shows that, e.g. a group for each medical category of disability. There have been political activists in the disability community, such as ADAPT - a national US group,and - a NYC group

that "crosses" disability-label lines to fight the "medical model", which separates. Crippen aludes to this.


I have made it a point to put myself in a wheelchair into some of my xerographic (multiples, art on paper using copier from collages using my photos) as well as symbols of disability. I invented the femalized version of the universal wheelchair access symbol in 1996, when making a 3"X3" sign to go into a piece of art on

police brutality in NYC. (Femalized by

adding breasts and hair, in my own image.

Humor, as Crippen shows, is essential for survival in this world that ranges from indifferent to hostile about people with disabilities.) We need to learn about each others' disabilities, too.

My 3"X3" sign, that I wear when I go out, has pieces of photos of faces and symbols of disability (wheelchair symbol and hands for sign language interpreter), and the faces include people of color.

The words on my sign are "EQUAL JUSTICE

FOR All FROM THE TOP ON DOWN". All injustice is related and we need to do coalitions.

Sue Bott

19 October 2009

Visually impaired people to the left please!

pink pjs

17 October 2009

Maybe it's just me but I didn't really feel that us 'mad' people were even invited to the party :( x