Rethinking Access and Inclusion Through Non-Normative Perspectives

Liza Sylvestre

Rethinking Access and Inclusion Through Non-Normative Perspectives

Krannert Art Museum (KAM) recently brought on visual artist and educator Liza Sylvestre as the museum’s inaugural curator of academic programs. In this new role, Sylvestre is responsible for connecting the university’s faculty and students to the museum – developing KAM into a vital teaching resource across all disciplines at the University of Illinois. Sylvestre is known for her intersectional and multidisciplinary work that explores the ways in which our senses alter our experience and perception of the world.

In her new position, Sylvestre is working to ensure that support and programming around disability, access, and inclusion extends beyond academics at the University of Illinois to also provide inclusive creative outlets for students with disabilities. “I am a person who has lived with a disability my entire life, so I understand disability as an identity category; a source of creativity; a fact that has often been painful, excluding, and isolating; a lesson in empathy; and a condition that has taught me about the ways non-normative issues connect people across seemingly distinct identities,” shared Sylvestre.

She has partnered with PACE, Inc. (Persons Assuming Control of their Environment), a service organization in East Central Illinois that supports the efforts of people with disabilities to achieve or maintain independence. The services they offer are designed by people who have personal experience with disability, as PACE is not only for people with disabilities, it’s also run by them. Sylvestre led the development of specialized tours of KAM that prioritize multisensory learning and experience for those that visit the museum. “My approach to institutional spaces is framed largely by issues of access related to my profound hearing loss,” said Sylvestre. “The experience of living with a disability allows one to clearly see the ways in which cultural institutions exclude non-normative bodies and marginalized identities. How we, as citizens, understand disability is formed largely by how institutions like museums broach the subject. Access should be thought of as something that extends beyond gestures of accommodation and considers non-normative perspectives in the way that content is framed and generated.”

Crip*, a group exhibition curated by Liza Sylvestre, is on view at KAM now through December 11 featuring artists who address disability and intersectional thinking. Some of the artists identify as disabled; some do not, but each has a relationship to (at least one) non-normative identity. The exhibition fractures and reassembles how we think about identity within the framework of our culture. Reverberations between Crip* works ask us to redefine and question our own ingrained thinking about what it means to move through a world that both rejects and capitalizes on experiences that are not perceived as normal. Go to kam.illinois.edu/exhibition/crip to learn more about this new exhibition.

Liza Sylvestre
Shannon Finnegan, Do you want us here or not?, 2018. MDO, paint. Courtesy of the artist. © Shannon Finnegan.

Continued

Crip*, a group exhibition curated by Liza Sylvestre, is on view at KAM now through December 11 featuring artists who address disability and intersectional thinking. Some of the artists identify as disabled; some do not, but each has a relationship to (at least one) non-normative identity. The exhibition fractures and reassembles how we think about identity within the framework of our culture. Reverberations between Crip* works ask us to redefine and question our own ingrained thinking about what it means to move through a world that both rejects and capitalizes on experiences that are not perceived as normal. Go to kam.illinois.edu/exhibition/crip to learn more about this new exhibition.

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