Shannon Finegan.jpeg

Blue wooden bench in a gallery with text painted on it. The back of the bench says "This exhibition has asked me to stand for too long." The seat says "Sit if you agree."
Shannon Finnegan, Do you want us here or not?, 2018. MDO, paint. Courtesy of the artist. © Shannon Finnegan

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Sculpture made up of assorted yellow and black painted violins and bows, arranged as though they're scattered on the floor. Speakers and wires are intertwined with the sculpture.
Christopher Robert Jones, PureImagination_Sextet. 2020. OSB, Wood Glue, Twine, USB Drive, Media Players, Computer Speakers, Violin/vocal rendition. Courtesy of the artist © Christopher Robert Jones

Carly Mandel .jpg

Two wall-mounted brackets installed above one another. The top one holds a round piece of jagged glass. The bottom one holds a stainless-steel medic alert or ID bracelet.
Carly Mandel, XXL Medical ID, 2019. Steel, aluminum, glass. Courtesy of the artist, Portage Garage, and Hamtramck Ceramck © Carly Mandel

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Image of two men engaged in a pillow fight in the center of an urban street. They are balanced on a tattered mattress as a vehicle drives toward them. The light in the image is late afternoon golden light, casting long shadows of the men on the ground.
Brontez Purnell, Pillow Fight, video still, 2016. Video, color. Courtesy of the artist, Videography by Sophia Wang.

Berenice Olmedo.jpg

An installation of rolled up body braces, propped up like human figures, slumped over. They are the color of pale skin, three of them plugged in and arranged in a circle, congregating.
Berenice Olmedo, áskesis, 2019. Alternating pressure pad, various body braces, arduino boards. Courtesy of the artist © Berenice Olmedo

Darrin Martin.jpg

Black background with assorted shapes that roughly form the image of a standing human. We see the person sketchily, assembled of grey, peach, green, and glassy transparent shapes, seemingly disconnected.
Darrin Martin, Contrapposto, video still, 2016. Video. Courtesy of the artist © Darrin Martin

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A drawing with a red background and script in large, uppercase, white letters which reads "INTERDEPENDENCE IS CENTRAL TO THE RADICAL RESTRUCTURING OF POWER". The red is made out of small, hand drawn pencil marks; letters appear where there are no marks.
Carmen Papalia and Heather Kai Smith, Interdependence is Central to the Radical Restructuring of Power, 2021. Risograph printed takeaway. Courtesy of the artists.


On view
Sep 23, 2021 to Dec 11, 2021
Main Level, Light Court and West Gallery

How do academic and cultural institutions inform awareness of disability? Who is responsible for access?

And what happens when identities who have historically been excluded from art spaces begin to occupy these same spaces as artists?

Crip* is a group exhibition 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. Often artists are expected to “perform” their identities for the art world through imaging themselves. On one hand this diversifies the art world; but on another hand this, in fact, pigeonholes artists with non-normative identities, strengthens the distinction between normative and non-normative, and reduces the rich and complex knowledge gained through lived experience to a more flattened and singular interpretation.

The artists in Crip* are attuned to the concepts that exist beyond the reach of simplified identity distinctions or interpretations. For example, Emilie Gossiaux’s work is informed by her hearing loss and vision loss, but what drives her work is a broad interest and deep understanding of communication, interdependence, and the connection between sense and memory. Her sensory ability provides her with a unique vantage point, but is not limiting, and Gossiaux is not interested in producing work that can be reduced to simply imagining her specific sensory composition.

Alison O’Daniel’s expansive project The Tuba Thieves utilizes O’Daniel’s understanding of sound both through her access to it and through her awareness of its absence due to her hearing loss. Scene 55 The Plants Are Protected beautifully relies on the generative space of translation. In fact, O’Daniel created her cinematic visuals based on sound scores produced by five different composers; the Deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim produced the sound score for scene 55. Through O’Daniel’s project we are able to reconsider the rich and liminal space formed between absence and presence.

Crip* references Crip Theory, which was coined by professor, writer, and theorist Robert McRuer in his book Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability, published in 2006. McRuer describes how compulsory heteronormativity and compulsory able-bodiedness rely on non-normal bodies and identities to exist. Normativity is essentially held in place, and defined by, all of the things that “it is not.” Non-normative identities are shaped around and against normativity and are required to remain non-normative in order to preserve normative continuity. Where earlier disability studies theorized and constructed a somewhat singular disabled identity, Crip Theory has sought to utilize productive aspects of that identity while resisting its limitations, primarily to forge connections and networks across multiple identity distinctions. Similarly, the artists in Crip* take on and push against rigid identity distinctions by presenting complicated works that resist reduction. It is impossible to interpret a work like Brontez Purnell’s Pillow Fight without taking into account his identities as a Black person, as a gay man, as a person who is HIV positive, as well as the gentrification that plagues San Francisco. All parts of Pillow Fight are interconnected and resist singular and incomplete approaches. Crip* also includes work by Liz Barr, Shannon Finnegan, Max Guy, Christopher Robert Jones, Carly Mandel, Darrin Martin, Berenice Olmedo, and Carmen Papalia & Heather Kai Smith.

The artists in Crip* utilize a new vocabulary to articulate variations of ability and experience. They delineate between the empowering and useful aspects of identity that facilitate dialogue and the constraining or limiting aspects that extinguish it. The exhibition thus fractures and reassembles how we think about identity within the framework of our culture. Reverberations between the 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.

Curated by Liza Sylvestre, Curator of Academic Programs

Co-organized with Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Supported by the James and Beth Armsey Fund.

Crip* will travel to Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois Chicago in Spring 2022.

The exhibition is available for travel after March 2022. For more information or a prospectus, please email the curator Liza Sylvestre or Museum Director Jon L. Seydl.



Two zines in the exhibition are available to download:

Body Works (2016) by Liz Barr

Conditioner (2019) by Liz Barr

spiral bound page that has a grid of red markings with two circular fields, one gold and the other red and white. On each field is a rectangle.
  1. Feb 2, 2023 to Dec 22, 2023
A graceful plum tree in full flower sits under a full moon. The sky is inky black but the moonlight makes each blossom seem to glow with inner light.
  1. Mar 2, 2023 to Dec 22, 2023
Three students sit at desks in a middle school classroom. They are making art through a program that celebrates Latina culture.
  1. Mar 25, 2023 to May 24, 2023