NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT: CREATIVE GROWTH ART STUDIO
"Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, is the world’s first and largest nonprofit center dedicated to giving artists with disabilities the space to let their talents shine. Since 1974, the center has served hundreds of artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities who lacked formal education in the arts. The studio helps to provide the tools, the space and the inspiration needed to grow into professional, exhibited artists. Today, artists represented by Creative Growth have been invited to the Venice Biennale, have had their works acquired by MoMA, and remain in high demand among collectors around the world." - Website: Creative Growth Art Studio
DISABILITY IS A DIVERSE COMMUNITY!
Disability is a diverse identity. Disability can be visible, invisible, chronic, temporary, or a central part of one's identity & lived experience. The disability identity is also intersectional and moves through all other identities such as race, culture, class, gender, age, and nationality. Around 15 percent of the world's population, or an estimated 1 billion, live with disabilities (WHO). Allyship is working to create a barrier-free world where people with disabilities can live, work, love, study, and imagine life to their fullest human potential. It will take all of us in each of our communities to create accessibility paths. An accessible world is for ALL OF US.
HABEN GIRMA, LAWYER
DISABILITY RIGHTS ACTIVIST
"Disability is never the barrier, it's the environment that is the barrier."
"Meet, Haben Girma, a BIPOC, Ethiopian woman who is the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben Girma is a human rights lawyer advancing disability justice. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. She received the Helen Keller Achievement Award, a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and TIME100 Talks. President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Chancellor Angela Merkel have all honored Haben. Haben believes disability is an opportunity for innovation, and she teaches organizations the importance of choosing inclusion." -
Website: Haben Girma
ARTS ACCESSIBILITY ADVOCATE
"Creativity is the path forward.
Arts are a human rights issue."
"Founded in 1974, Creative Growth is a leader in the field of arts and disabilities, establishing a model for a creative community guided by the principle that art is fundamental to human expression and that all people are entitled to its tools of communication." The Creative Growth Studio is home to over 140 artists who work in a variety of media. Facilitated by professional artists, the studio provides artistic support, high-quality materials, and space for painting, drawing, ceramics, woodwork, fiber arts, printmaking, and digital media. The studio is an open space, converted 12,000 square foot former auto repair shop."
Website: Creative Growth
FEATURED ARTISTS - ART ACCESSIBILITY PATHS
"Nigerian-American therapist and visual artist, Kemi Yemi-Ese, resides in Austin, Texas. Following a near tragic car accident in 2006, Kemi became paralyzed at the cervical level of her spinal cord and uses a wheelchair for mobility. After graduating from Baylor University and Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, Kemi is focused on growing in her dual careers as an artist and therapist. Her art reflects the struggles and triumphs that living with a disability entail through imagery that is relatable. Her artwork and therapeutic approaches often challenge representations of mobility, gender, beauty, race, and divinity. The challenges she faces compel her to also be an advocate and she has taken many opportunities to advocate for her rights and those of others with disabilities. From serving on boards for independent living centers to winning the title of Ms. Wheelchair America, Kemi is earnest in speaking up and taking action. Kemi’s current work is heavily inspired by her Nigerian heritage blending dynamic and contemplative portraits with cultural exploration."
WEBSITE: KEMI'S ART
Judith Scott was an American fiber sculptor, born with Down Syndrome and deaf. She was internationally renowned for her art. In 1987, Judith was enrolled at the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, which supports people with developmental disabilities. There, Judith discovered her passion and talent for abstract fiber art, and she was able to communicate in a new form. On April 1, 1987, Judith Scott began attending the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, one of the first organizations in the world to provide studio space for artists with disabilities. Her creative gifts and absolute focus were quickly recognized, and she was given complete freedom to choose her own materials. Taking whatever objects she found, regardless of ownership, she would wrap them in carefully selected colored yarns to create diverse sculptures of many different shapes. Some resemble cocoons or body parts, while others are elongated totemic poles. Many of her works also feature pairs, reflecting Scott's experience as a twin. Judith worked on her art five days a week for eighteen years, producing over 200 works.
WEBSITE: JUDITH SCOTT
INCLUSIVE CLASSROOMS: BUILD YOUR ACCESSBILITY TOOLKIT!
BUILD YOUR ACCESSIBILITY TOOLKIT!
Stay informed about the types of accessibility needs your students may need. Here is a brief list of accessibility examples:
Vision - Blind/Low vision (large print or assistive braille technology)
Auditory - Close captioning / sign language
Mobility - Wheelchair access, address access barriers to community events.
Technology - Adaptive technology for study & learning
Chronic Conditions - Pacing, place to rest, or private space to attend to health management needs. (ex: diabetics - glucose control).
Service Animals - Space for service animals & guidelines for other students regarding boundaries.
*Meeting accessibility needs requires creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. It may be a new experience for both you and your student, stay curious and be open to learning!
TERMINOLOGY - LEARN MORE
How do aspects of an artist’s social and political identities (ex. gender, sex, race, class, sexuality, religion, ability, physical appearance, etc.) intersect within their work? This is a list of artists with varying disabilities and it is powerful to learn how their disability lens informs their art-making. Engaging children with artists who look like them, have similar experiences, and come from similar backgrounds is a great source of inspiration and empowerment. By reflecting their own identities, experiences, and motivations (mirrors) and also providing insight into the identities, experiences, and motivations of others (windows) can move students toward more nuanced perceptions of the world around them. Discover new artists to add to your curriculum.
Artists have many layered identities and art educators need to present them as such.
THE ART & DISABILITY LENS
DOUBLE TAKE : ART & DISABLITY
"Look at art through the lens of disability and consider representation, historical context, and identity with Conor Moynihan, Andrew Mellon Fellow, Prints, Drawings, and Photographs and Leon Hilton, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Brown University. Join the discussion to explore the intersectionality of featured art and artists through the lens of a disability, neurodiversity, and performativity." - THE RISD MUSEUM
DISABILITY - ACCESSIBILITY ACTIVIST ORGANIZATIONS
Equity & Art
Art & Accessibility in Public Spaces
PBS News Hour: 30 years after ADA, inaccessibility persists for the disabled
Intersectionality, Disability and the Expressive Arts
The Arts & Public Health
Mouth & Foot Painters
ARTS ACCESSIBILITY ACTIVISM
REJI MATHEW, Ph.D., LCSW, REAT
EXPRESSIVE ARTS ADVOCATE/EDUCATOR
Thinking and working integratively are innate to my intellectual inquiry and creative art-making method. I am an intermodal artist. I create work in multiple forms: digital art, animation film shorts, narratology/storytelling, and visual art.
I grew up in a world that was not accessible. The mission of the ARAT Arts Accessibility Project is to provide education, resources, and examples of arts accessibility to support allyship in building accessibility paths for the broad, unique, imaginative disability community.
I will also be interviewing amazing artists across the disability community to share stories of their unique Imagination & art-making processes.
We thank you for your collaboration!