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Art + Body showing brings unique art to St. Boniface

Exhibit puts disabilities in a different light

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Cara Mason (centre) and Alice Crawford (right) are artists featured in this year’s Art + Body festival, with works in the St. Boniface Library. Susan Lamberd (left) says artists like Mason and Crawford have unique perspectives on life and art because of their disabilities.

CINDY CHAN Enlarge Image

Cara Mason (centre) and Alice Crawford (right) are artists featured in this year’s Art + Body festival, with works in the St. Boniface Library. Susan Lamberd (left) says artists like Mason and Crawford have unique perspectives on life and art because of their disabilities. Photo Store

An exhibit spread out across several points in Winnipeg aims to speak to the experiences of people who have had to overcome obstacles both physical and mental.

Art + Body: See Me Hear, an exhibit featuring works of and performances by people with disabilities, will take place at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art on Oct. 10 and the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Oct. 11. The exhibit officially opened on Sept. 15 at the St. Boniface Library.

Art + Body is an annual art festival that celebrates artists with both mental and physical disabilities. This year’s theme, "See Me Hear," is about senses and how the body reacts when one sense is amplified, interrupted, or completely gone.

"If you are deaf, how does the rest of your body react to that — do you see better? Can you feel people in the room if you have visual impairment?" explained Susan Lamberd, chairperson of the Art & Disability Network Manitoba located at 1200 Portage Ave.

Cara Mason’s art is featured at the library as part of the festival. A woman with borderline personality disorder, Mason created a series of three paintings called Disorder.

"They are of three different women that I know with some form of mental illness. One of them has bipolar disorder, one of them has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and one of them has borderline personality disorder," Mason said.

Mason explained that each of the paintings portray the three women in their default protective state when having their breakdowns.

"Everyone posed in a fetal position," Mason said. "It’s just by coincidence the models’ faces are covered. They create a shield from everyone else, because the only communication that happens in that moment is within their own mind, and it’s trying to talk themselves out of that moment, to calm themselves down, or to shut off whatever stimulation is happening that caused that breakdown to happen."

Mason created these paintings to start a dialogue about mental illness, and present the issue in a beautiful way.

On Oct. 10, deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim from New York will perform at the Plug In ICA (460 Portage Ave.) at 7 p.m.

On Oct. 11, there will be a total of four performances at the WAG (300 Memorial Blvd.), including a blind pianist and a deaf hoop dancer.

Alice Crawford, a deaf artist, will be speaking at the WAG on Oct. 2 about the deaf culture and art scene in Winnipeg. Her collage had also been featured in the festival. Her collage is a piece of typography art in American Sign Language.

"It starts with the sign for ‘communicate’, and then I do the expressive motion where the hand sweeps up, and then a flick of the finger for ‘understand.’ It’s a way to say spoken language is a hindrance," Crawford said.

What Crawford means is that people with hearing impairments communicate more effectively because they don’t have the same distractions as people who are able to hear.

"We’re able to focus more. We see colours being brighter. We don’t have outside influences. I mean, we can see and look at art and all, but the fact we don’t hear, we interpret things differently, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It makes you unique," Crawford said.

For a full schedule of events and admission fees, visit adnm.ca

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