Thursday 11 February 2016

Creations off the Beaten Path

On Thursday February 25th 2016, 3:15-4:45pm, six Blind Creations attendees will discuss the conference in a round-table entitled 'Creations off the Beaten Path: A Discussion on Disability and the Arts: challenging our preconception of artistic practice and the experience of artistic creation' which will take place as part of the 2016 Transcultural Exchange conference at Boston University, George Sherman Union, 2nd Floor, Metcalf Hall, Auditorium.

This panel, moderated by Florian Grond, will explore how the relationship between people with disabilities and artistic creation can help to expand our view of the arts. In a predominantly visual culture, blindness constitutes a particular challenge to our (pre)conceptions of artistic creation. This is why this panel will focus on blind creations. Our definition of ‘blindness’ is broad, encompassing anyone who relates to the world using senses other than sight and is open to the general topic of disabilities and artistic creation.

The panelists are blind and non-blind artists, academics, practitioners and advocates challenging stereotypes of ‘blindness’ by recasting it as a multi-faceted and positive creative force. This creative force, like all good art, challenges us to reconsider what we include in our definition of artistic practice and how its outcomes can and indeed must be experienced by blind and non-blind people.

Georgina Kleege lectures in English and Creative Writing at the University of Berkeley, California. Her current research interests include creative non-fiction, disability, autobiography and blindness and visual art. She is the author of Sight Unseen (1999) and Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller (2006) as well as numerous scholarly articles. Georgina is a leading figure in blindness studies.

Hannah Thompson is a partially blind academic and blogger. She lectures in French Language and Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London in the UK. She has published widely on nineteenth-century French culture and is currently writing a book on representations of blindness in French literature. She is particularly interested in the fraught relationship between French visual culture and Disability Studies and is the author of the popular Blind Spot blog.

Vanessa Warne is an Associate Professor in the Department of English, Film and Theatre at the University of Manitoba, where she holds a cross-appointment with the University’s Interdisciplinary Disability Studies MA Program. Her current research is on blindness, literacy and the development of a print culture for blind readers in nineteenth-century Britain. She also volunteers in the heritage community, promoting museum accessibility and advocating for the role of museums in post-secondary learning and social justice education.

David Johnson is a 59 year-old blind artist-educator. He lives and works in Hitchin in the south-east of England. His art practice and education are unconventional: He spent a year at art college, during which time his eye condition (Retinitis Pigmentosa) dramatically worsened. He then changed to music studies and followed a music based career for about fifteen years before reconnecting with an art practice. This revival of interest in art was prompted by his involvement with a vibrant access to art scene in London together with his own children's art activities.

Piet Devos is a Belgian literary scholar. Having lost sight at the age of five, he has always been fascinated by perception. In his PhD thesis, he developed a sensory approach to literature. His new research project focuses on writers who interpreted their disabilities as a creative reorganization of perception. Since November 2015, he is affiliated with the Centre for Sensory Studies at Concordia University, Montreal (Canada).

On Friday, February 26th, 2015 from 9:45 am to 11:45 am there is also a mentoring session and portfolio reviews with the panelists. Please come to the mentoring session and portfolio reviews if you are interested in art and disability and accessibility in the arts. The mentors of this session are happy to give feedback about your work and its relation to fine arts and literature with a special focus on art and blindness. Come to the mentoring session if you are a blind artist and seek mentoring and if you want to network with your peers. Also come if you want to get feedback about the accessibility of your artwork, or discuss the aesthetic and practical aspects of audio description. Also, come to the mentoring session if you are for instance a curator thinking about how to make the artworks in an exhibition accessible.