Disability & fashion

This project develops new activist methodologies and pedagogies in fashion design and education by centring the disabled wearer. In a special topics course on disability and fashion in the School of Fashion at Ryerson University with Dr. Ben Barry, fashion students will co-design an outfit with a disabled wearer by working through a collaborative design process that is grounded in disability justice.

Students will first be introduced to the frameworks of design activism, disability justice, disability aesthetics, design thinking and co-design. Students will use mobile body scanning technology and 3D modeling software to create a 3D digital model of the wearer’s body. They will create, modify and finalize the outfit in exchange with a disabled wearer. The final work will be photographed, and these photographs alongside the final outfits will be exhibited to disrupt serotypes and misrepresentations about disability and fashion, as well as to explore the relationship between fashion and design activism and social and political justice.

To document the project for research analysis and mobilization, both students and wearers will be interviewed before and after the project about their reasons for participating, experiences and co-designed outfit. They will also be asked to keep an audio or written journal of their thoughts and feelings during the process.

Poster advertising the project.

Accessing the Arts

Research Associate: Job Overview
Deadline: September 13, 2020

We are seeking a community-oriented researcher to join our team in a flexible part-time capacity at the Re•Vision Centre for Art and Social Justice in the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences at the University of Guelph. This position is connected to a research project, Accessing the Arts, that is a partnership between Creative Users Projects and Bodies in Translation.

Creative Users Projects is working with communities with lived experiences of disability and difference across Canada to co-create solutions that make difference discoverable and vital in a world that’s transforming to digital. Our research and development initiative (Accessing the Arts) aims to build a business model and service that is created in collaboration with the communities it hopes to serve. 

Under the supervision of Margaret Lam, digital lead at ATA, the Re•Vision Research Associate will conduct qualitative user research on the information and data practices of arts and community organizations, to support the human-centered design process that is being used to inform the creation of the ATA platform, our knowledge mobilization activities, and a data strategy that straddles the arts and accessibility domains. General descriptions of the priority tasks are listed below, but the details of each can be shaped to reflect a candidate’s interests and experiences:

  • Co-create and execute a knowledge mobilization plan to share the ATA team’s research and broaden awareness of the implications, challenges, and opportunities that going digital means to disabled lives. This will include both community and scholarly outputs (e.g. podcasts, tool kits, and other formats to-be-determined with the communities, and research articles).
  • Conduct user needs research activities (interviews, focus groups, etc.) that will inform the creation of a data strategy that bridges arts data and accessibility data and involve arts organizations and festivals across Canada (Luminato, Tangled Art + Disability, Culture Days, Fringe Festival, Accessibility Cloud),

Qualifications

We are interested in hearing from graduate students (master’s or PhD) who are either currently enrolled in, or have graduated from a social science, humanities or interdisciplinary field (with a preference for disciplines that engage critically with issues of digital society, technology, human-centered design, and information studies). The ideal candidate is comfortable working in a community-based, interdisciplinary environment with a demonstrated commitment to critical analysis of disability as it intersects with race/ethnicity, Indigeneity, gender, social class, sexuality, and body size. In particular, we are looking for someone who can analyze information-seeking behaviour with that critical lens, and preferably from the position of lived experience from within the aforementioned communities. Strong written and/or oral communication skills required. Track record of publication in academic journals (or a strong portfolio of community and/or research-based output) or equivalent is highly desirable. Demonstrated ability to collaborate in a community-based research context would be strong assets.  

This position requires an average of 18-24 hours/week at $25-30/hour starting in Fall 2020 until Spring 2021, with the flexibility to accommodate a candidate’s availability, and reflect nature shifts in the project’s demands. Interested applicants should submit a cover letter outlining their interests/suitability for the position, include CVs and/or portfolio if they are available, and contact information for two references by Sunday, September 13, 2020.

If you have any questions about the position, or would like to attend an information session about the position (to-be-scheduled the first week of Sept) please send an email to info@creativeusers.ca.

Re• Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice encourages applications from disabled, Mad, Indigenous, BPOC, and LGBTQI, fat, and aging/ aged people and all people who are marginalized in the workplace.


Accessing the Arts Artist Focus Groups

April 24-May 20, 2020

From April 24 – May 20, 2020, we hosted a series of online co-design thinking workshops facilitated by guest artists to open dialogue about accessing the arts and share stories around what it means to access artistic experiences pre and post COVID-19.

Participants shared their memorable experiences as artists and audience members, as well as the ways the current health crisis is impacting their communities or individual lives.

We are grateful to all of our artist co-researchers, who brought their approaches and insights to this project. Keep tuned for an upcoming report on insights generated!

Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario

Image description of film preview: Mona Stonefish speaks into a microphone. Mona is an Onkwehón:we Elder with long silver and black braids. Her name and title, “Mona Stonefish Elder and Co-Curator,” are displayed in the lower right corner of the image. At the lower centre of the image there’s a caption that reads, “That I am with you.” (End of image description.)

In this segment from the film, Elder Mona Stonefish speaks at the Exhibition Opening event. She reflects upon her grandmother’s loving advice to her as a child when she was forcibly taken from her family and placed in the Mohawk Institute, Indian Residential School.

About Into the Light: The Exhibition and the Documentary

Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario is both an award-winning exhibition and a 37-minute documentary film that brings one of Canada’s sinister secrets of eugenics, as well as stories of survival, out of the shadows and into the light.

The exhibition was co-created and co-curated by Elder Mona Stonefish, Peter Park, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Evadne Kelly, Seika Boye and Sky Stonefish and featured at the Guelph Civic Museum from September 14, 2019 – March 1, 2020 in Guelph, Ontario.

The exhibition and the documentary are co-presented by Guelph MuseumsBodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to LifeRe•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, and Respecting Rights, ARCH Disability Law.  

Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario examines local histories and ongoing legacies of racial “betterment” thinking in Southern Ontario that de-humanized and disappeared those who did not fit the normative middle-class lives of white, able-bodied settlers.

In the early to mid-20th century, eugenics (race improvement through heredity) was taught in a number of universities throughout Southern Ontario, including Macdonald Institute and the Ontario Agricultural College, two of the three founding colleges that formed the University of Guelph. Educational institutions played a significant role in the eugenics movement by perpetuating destructive ideas that targeted Indigenous, Black, and other racialized populations, poor, and disabled people for segregation in institutions, cultural assimilation and sterilization.

While eugenics sought to eradicate those deemed as “unfit,” Into the Light centres the voices of members of affected communities who continue to work to prevent institutional brutality, oppose colonialism, reject ableism, and foster social justice, including responding to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

The documentary captures the collaborative process of creating the exhibition Into the Light through to the exhibition’s opening. Throughout the film, the creators and rights activists share stories about the exhibition process, discoveries through research, and interpretation of findings through the lens of diverse lived experiences. 

Into the Light in the Classroom: Teaching Eugenics Histories

Into the Light has great pedagogical value and potential for social justice-oriented faculty and students. The documentary may be integrated into courses. The film extends to studies in disability, decolonizing, social and political dimensions of bodies, difference, sexuality, archives, museum studies, history of sociology, psychology and anthropology, history of public health, education, and domestic science, Canadian history and the history of science, race and racism, equity, human rights law and policy, and more.

For access to the Into the Light documentary for private in-class viewing please contact Tracy Tidgwell at Bodies in Translation, ttidgwell@uoguelph.ca. For more pedagogical resources on eugenics and Into the Light contact Evadne Kelly, evadnekelly@gmail.com.

Into the Light Exhibition Access Guide

Explore the Into the Light exhibition Access Guide to find information about the exhibition, the gallery space, the accessibility of the show and events, and a glossary of key words.

Into the Light Exhibition – ASL Vlog Invitation

Image description of the video still: A Deaf Interpreter with their hands open stands in front of a brown wall. The interpreter is a person of colour, has dark brown hair pulled back, and is dressed in all black.

Awards

Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario, the exhibition, received the 2020 Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation.

A photo of Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning, Sky Stonefish, Evadne Kelly, Mona Stonefish, and Judge Albert Wong on stage at the Ontario Heritage Award ceremony.
A photo of Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell with Into the Light co-curators Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Sky Stonefish, Evadne Kelly, Elder Mona Stonefish, and Harvey McCue , Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust, on stage at the Ontario Heritage Award ceremony on February 21, 2020.

Media Coverage

New Guelph exhibit reveals history of eugenics education in Ontario (CBC)

“Into the Light” exposes eugenics course taught in Guelph colleges until 1948 (BLOOM Blog)

Universities must open their archives and share their oppressive pasts (Evadne Kelly and Carla Rice, The Conversation)

Reflections on Into the Light with exhibition co-curator Evadne Kelly [Video 3:08]

Reflections on Into the Light with exhibition co-curator Peter Park [Video 2:43]

Reflections on Into the Light with Sue Hutton from Respecting Rights [Video 3:09]

About the Exhibition Co-Curators and Documentary Team

Elder Mona Stonefish (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Creative Direction) is an Anishinaabe artist, Traditional Knowledge Keeper, Windsor Art Gallery board member, disability activist, and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee award. 

Peter Park (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Creative Direction) is co-founder of Respecting Rights, founder of People First, and recipient of the June Callwood Award. 

Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning (Exhibition Co-creator) is an Anishinaabe contemporary artist and incoming Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Cultural Studies Program at Queen’s University.

Evadne Kelly (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Producer and Creative Direction) is a modern dancer, and Postdoctoral Artist-Researcher at Re•Vision Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph. 

Seika Boye (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Creative Direction) is a scholar, writer, educator and consultant, whose practices revolve around dance and movement. She is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Toronto. 

Sky Stonefish (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Creative Direction) is an Anishinaabe jingle dress dancer, photographer, and beadworker. Sky is a trailblazer in many arenas: from her modelling for Shandra Spears Bombay to her activism confronting discrimination and tearing down barriers. Sky’s magnetic leadership brings people together everywhere she goes.  

Dante Jemmott (Exhibition and Documentary Voice Actor) is a Toronto theatre-based actor and recording artist. His latest release “Strength of a Flower” sheds light on the issues we have been seeing for years around the plight of black individuals in North America, while also reminding us of the strength we have within ourselves and the possibilities for a brighter future.  

Angus McLellan (Documentary Cinematographer, Video Production and Original Score) is an Ontario-based filmmaker who works mainly in independent documentary and fiction film production as a Director, Editor and Cinematographer. His projects frequently centre around social issues, as well as perceived social and personal boundaries within western culture and how they affect the way we interact with one another. 

Tracy Tidgwell (Documentary Producer, Creative Direction) is a multidisciplinary artist, activist and cultural producer working in the folds of the queer and disability communities. She is a core member of Fat Rose, a fat liberation cross-movement incubator, and the Research Project Manager for Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life at Re•Vision: TheCenter for Art and Social Justice.

Dawn Owen (Documentary Creative Direction) is Curator of Guelph Museums. She leads the museum’s collections, exhibitions and educational programming. Owen is committed to co-creative and accessible programming, which are core to her work toward decolonization and contemporary collecting at the museum. 

Carla Rice (Documentary Executive Producer, Creative Direction) is Canada Research Chair and Professor in the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, Founding Director of Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice at the University of Guelph, and Principal Investigator and Co-Director (with Eliza Chandler) of Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life. She specializes in disability and embodiment studies and in arts-based research methodologies with a focus on changing systems and fostering social well-being and justice. 

Acknowledgements and Thanks

The development of this accessible curated exhibition was generously supported by Carla Rice, Canada Research Chair and Founding Director of Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph, and Principal Investigator and Co-Director (with Eliza Chandler) of the SSHRC Partnership Grant Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life, and the Re•Vision and Bodies in Translation teams (in particular Tracy Tidgwell, Ingrid Mündel, Kayla Besse, and Lindsay Fisher); Dawn Owen, Curator, Guelph Museums; Respecting Rights, in particular, Sue Hutton, Co-ordinator; and ARCH Disability Law Centre, in particular, Mariana Versiani, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, and Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director. Aaron Kelly, Assistant Professor in Theatre at York University supported production and graphic design elements. And, Dr. Franklin White, development consultant, public health sciences, provided notes on some of the scientific fallacies underlying eugenics.

Image from Hidden

Hidden

‘Hidden’ explores intergenerational trauma [hauntology], isolation and lived experiences of Black artists with hidden disabilities. What is hidden is kept concealed, and what is concealed is done to hide our uniqueness. As we navigate through unwelcome spaces that create exclusion and anxiety, we recognize how ableism, according to Dustin P. Gibson’s definition, is an “anti-black system that assigns value based on our ability to produce profit, excel and behave, and enforces a false idea of normalcy.” But we find each other in spite of invisibility, concealment and what is hidden. We strengthen each other by centering our communities from the peripheries, celebrating our shared spaces, ideas and experiences with other like-minded individuals.

Through our intersectional approach to disability arts, we reject single narratives of disability. Our collective understanding of disability is one that is political and relational. As we begin to uncover what is hidden, we move towards a rich and vibrant diversity of movements that work to confront our own cultural priorities. Even though our practices are different, each artist adds to the exhibition in unique ways that results into a powerful show. We are stronger together than separately.

Photo: Michelle Peek Photography.

Group of participants from big picture committee meeting

Bodies in Translation 2020 Big Picture Committee Meeting

Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life (BIT) cultivates activist art produced by disabled, d/Deaf, fat, Mad, and E/elder people through research that explores how creating access to art for non-normatively embodied people and opportunities for the public to engage with this art expands understandings of vitality and advances social justice in Ontario and beyond.   

Bodies in Translation is at the mid-point of a 7-year, SSHRC-funded community/university Partnership Grant that builds and expands upon a working relationship between Re•Vision: The Centre for Art & Social Justice and Tangled Art + Disability to bring together 23 community organizations and academic institutions to advance disability arts in Ontario. 

Since our last Big Picture Committee meeting, BIT has produced a number of exciting projects including the publication and video animation of the BIT Guiding Principles, the Into the Light exhibit at the Guelph Civic Museum, the 2019 Cripping the Arts Symposium, and much, much more. We highlighted and celebrated many of these projects at this meeting.​

Dancers

Night of Ideas: Being Alive

Part of a global initiative across 50 cities, Night of Ideas: Being Alive brought together a dynamic mix of international artists, writers, philosophers, performers, and activists to explore what it means to be alive in the multiplicities of the body and the entanglements of identity.

An evening of free lectures, performances, and screenings presented in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Canada and Hart House.

Speakers include: writer, philosopher, curator, and trans-activist Paul B. Preciado; queer crip fashion activist and scholar Dr. Ben Barry; genderqueer drag queen, storyteller, and creator Patrick Salvani/Ms. Nookie Galore; and disabled, gender non-confirming/nonbinary trans performer and visual artist Wit López.

Film screenings featuring works by Dr. Loree Erickson and Kent Monkman, performances by RARE Theatre, and a workshop and performance by the Legendary House Mother Snoopy of the Kiki House of Disney and dancers from the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance are also not to be missed.

BIT co-presented a video program, curated by Tracy Tidgwell: 1. Fluid by Mari Ramsawakh 2. Watershed by Jake Pyne 3. A Poem to Everyone In My Life Who Misgenders Me (And Thinks It’s No Big Deal) by Devin Gaine 4. Butch Coyolxauhqui by Karleen Jimenez

Location Hart House Art Museum at the University of Toronto

Image from Ancestral Mindscapes

Ancestral Mindscapes

Ancestral Mindscapes is an autobiographical collaboration using video, sound and photography to explore the intersection of madness, indigeneity, colonialism, environmental destruction and the healing power of nature.

Ancestral Mindscapes is a collaboration between Rick Miller, who self-identifies as a Mad artist in discovery of his Indigenous ancestry; Jules Koostachin, a Cree artist and academic; and Geneviève Thibault, a Gaspésienne photographer.

constructed identities: persimmon blackbridge

Constructed Identities, a major show of new work by Persimmon Blackbridge, uses mixed media wood carving with found objects to question how disability is framed as a fracturing of ordinary life rather than a normal, expected part of it. Her exploration of the figure begins in disability, but necessarily complicates itself as our embodied identities intersect and overlap.

This short documentary captures both the 2019 exhibition at McMaster University and an interview with the artist in her home studio on Hornby Island, British Columbia.

Constructed Identities was the opening exhibition of Tangled Art Gallery in 2015 and has been touring multiple Ontario cities since, most recently at the Canada Council for the Arts in Ottawa. Tangled is dedicated to enhancing opportunities for artists with disabilities and boldly redefining how the world experiences art and those who create it.

Blackbridge has worked as a sculptor, writer, curator, performer, fiction editor, cleaning lady and a very bad waitress. In this fully accessible exhibition, she uses hand-crafted wood figures, metal and found objects to confront and complicate notions of disability.

Blackbridge has been awarded the Ferro-Grumley Fiction Prize, the VanCity Book Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the VIVA award for visual arts and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design Distinguished Alumni Award. Her art has been shown across Canada and the U.S., as well as in Australia, Europe, and Hong Kong. She lives on Hornby Island in British Columbia.

This video was filmed by Dale DeVost and Marion Gruner, edited by Marion Gruner of Billion Ideas and produced by Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life, a project of Re•Vision: The Centre for Art & Social Justice. bodiesintranslation.ca

Transgressing body boundaries

Jake Pyne, Jen Rinaldi and May Friedman are working on a multi-media storytelling project on trans approaches to weight stigma.

Call for participants (past):

Seeking trans, Two-Spirit, genderqueer, non-binary, genderfluid, butch, femme, fairy folks with a relationship to fat and/or who experience weight stigma

Do you have a story to tell about your gender in relation to your body size and shape? Does your relationship with fat, weight stigma, and/or eating practices impact your experience of gender identity or expression? Come tell your story in our video-making project! All body sizes and gender identities and expressions welcome!


Participation will include:
 An hour-long telephone interview
 A half-to-full day writing workshop
 Three one-on-one sessions with artists to produce a short biographical video

You will be given an $100 honourarium for your time.

In-person meetings will take place on Ryerson campus in downtown Toronto, or the ‘Dish With
One Spoon Territory’ established by treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas, and
Haudenosaunee peoples.

We are committed to providing an accessible environment, including physically accessible space
with gender neutral washrooms. Please inform the team if you have specific accommodation
needs.

This study has been reviewed by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (Ontario Tech
University) Research Ethics Board 15397 on June 10 2019, and by the Ryerson University
Research Ethics Board 2019-329 on August 21 2019.
For more information, or to express interest in participating, contact TransBodyBoundaries@gmail.com.

Promo image for Fault Lines

Fault Lines

Acceptance of change and change through acceptance—Fault Lines explores processes emblematic of observant insight and growth gained from conditions of challenge and disruption. It approaches disturbance with openness and optimism, and challenges the problematic and commonly accepted ideas about disability and aesthetics. Using altered photographs, video, fabricated materials, and immersive installations, artists Leala Hewak and Laura Shintani mindfully embrace ambiguity through spirited works that speak to lived experiences of neurodiversity and embodied difference. Reclaiming trauma and uncertainty, the artists explore ways of constructively reframing notions of recovery, adjustment, and adaptation.

Fault Lines honours how these nuanced investigations of brokenness reconcile in relation to the unique formation of identities, experiences, and ways of being. Fault Lines is presented by two of the leaders in disability and mental health in the arts: Tangled Art + Disability and Workman Arts. Tangled Art + Disability operates Canada’s first disability art gallery, and Workman Arts is a multidisciplinary arts organization that promotes a greater understanding of mental health and addiction issues through creation and presentation.

Curated by Claudette Abrams and Sean Lee