Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Art, Technology, and Disability

It has been forever, it feels to me since I have written on my blog. I took a break to focus on family and school. Here I am, three years into my college degree experience, and I am now ready to adventure into something new. 
I turned 51 a few weeks ago. It all happened so fast. This life has rushed past me and here I am, past the halfway mark to 100. I am headed in a new direction from when I first started this blog, it has morphed from food to writing, to poetry, and now to art. 
I have been dabbling with art for many years as a hobbyist. When I turned 51 I decided to pursue a passion and devote more time and effort into my art study and art performance. The header to my blog now includes ART because I will be writing more and more about art, maybe some about food, and some essay writing about life, studies, and adventures.
I hope to share more of my art, the process of my art evolving, and the healing process that art has in our lives. Today I had to write a short piece of how art, technology, and people with disabilities are evolving in this changing climate of awareness. I learned a lot from reading the hyperlinks and watching the video of Sue Austin scuba diving in her wheelchair.  
I have posted the short discussion below. This was an education for me to discover how much technology has advanced in the field of art, especially helping those with disabilities to learn how to become artist, encouraging their passion, and then providing resources for them to exhibit and display their pieces of art. 
Is there a "value of difference" through art and disability?
Art is a powerful tool with a wide range of mediums, all used to tell a story, emote a feeling, allow our minds to explore unknown territories. I am an artist. Two of my four kids are artists too. I guess painting with acrylics and oil are ways we have been drawn into our art form. At least that is my story. My two daughters are both engaged in technology when it comes to their art approaches. They use their laptops, art pads, high-tech pens, and the internet to share and sell their artwork. Art is simply a part of our daily lives, but our daily lives are free from disabilities that would hold us back or hinder our performance with our art form, regardless of the type of art we choose to create. When I watched the video from chapter 5, Sue Austin: Deep Sea a wheelchair 2012, I was mesmerized because it made me think about art, disabilities, and how I see artists with disabilities. It made me want to learn more about artists with disabilities. I started searching for things like, "who are they", "what are they using to create their works with", and what is their disability"? Listening to Sue speak in the video, I felt her excitement. I saw her joy. She expressed her joy of "freedom" in the water and being able to move "360 degrees", and she noted that her wheelchair, the video, and her story have created a "value of difference" in how people with disabilities are viewed when the story is changed, when our perspective is skewed, and when art is used to portray something new and bold.
The "value of difference" was displayed recently when a group of disabled dancers were paired with a group of high school and middle school students. They worked together to create extensions of their disabilities for performances. The students were "creating wearable designs that shine a light on each dancer's strength and resilience". The audience was tied to a beautiful representation of something our society might deem "different", "uncomfortable", or even "impossible" when we think in terms of a person with a disability. Student artists create gorgeous wearable sculptures for dancers with disabilities, (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. written by Katie Dupree said, "It's time to recognize the beauty in disability". Looking at these costumes, beauty is what you see. The five participants disabilities ranged from cerebral palsy to sight issues. The art enhancements were designed to give the audience a feel for what it might feel like to "be on display" because a person is different. I love how Katie summed up the visual and artists creations, she writes, "the result is a visually captivating sculpture that challenges misguided ideas of disability as undesirable or unappealing".  I am amazed at how powerful art resonates a message, and I feel this particular project exemplified the idea of art displaying the "value of difference" in a beautiful and personal representation of the artists and the observer.
The above article mentions how artists and those with disabilities are working together to create a new dialogue and representation of how disabilities are seen and understood, but what about those with disabilities that wish to learn about art, explore art, and exhibit art? The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Links to an external site.)Links to an external sitein New York City, as well as other art galleries around the world, are taking interest in providing experiences through visual learning, hearing discoveries, and hands-on creation for those with disabilities. Welcoming Art Lovers With Disabilities (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.shares with readers how they are working together with the disabled community, artists, and museums to create a viable partnership for those who wish to engage in art. The article describes a variety of ways in which museums are working effortlessly to provide a full spectrum of experiences for all visitors. 3D printers are being used to duplicate certain works of art so that those with limited vision, can feel the art. Listening devices are also being used around the world to allow those with visibility disabilities to listen to vlogs or audio. These are just two ways in which the art community is trying to create more opportunities for those with disabilities. Why is this important? Because it allows them to explore something new, art in all its form. This may empower them to try something they thought impossible to do themselves. Art is an expression of self and when a person is limited due to a disability they may need to discover new ways to express themselves as Sue Austin did with her wheelchair. It is giving them a "value" in their "differences".
To answer my own question, yes, I believe there is a "value of difference" through art and disability. It makes a difference in our lives and those lives who create art with disabilities. It is one more way they can see themselves represented in our communities and a way for them to feel connected. I learned a lot about art, disability, and how technology is changing how we view those with disabilities. 

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