Local artist part of Paralympic exhibit

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Athletic high achievers like Rick Hansen and Terry Fox epitomize heroism among the disabled for most Canadians.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/03/2010 (4661 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Athletic high achievers like Rick Hansen and Terry Fox epitomize heroism among the disabled for most Canadians.

But Winnipeg artist Daphne Enns believes that true bravery resides in more mundane activities than rolling or running across the country.

“It’s just life,” Enns says. “Every day you wake up and do what you need to do.”

Enns flies to Vancouver on Wednesday as one of 20 Canadian artists who have won slots in a visual arts exhibition being held to coincide with the Paralympic Games.

Titled Heroes, the show opens Thursday night at the downtown Pendulum Gallery, as part of Vancouver’s Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture festival.

The lone Manitoban accepted into the show, Enns has already shipped off the two pieces that will be on display.

One is a 50-by-50-centimetre painting, S-Curve, a self-portrait of her spine, which is deformed by the chronic conditions of scoliosis and lumbar lordosis.

The second is a 1.8-by-1.5-metre installation piece, Invisible/Exposed, three transparent panels emblazoned with text and imagery, a layered chronicle of her medical, social and familial history created with hospital records, school transcripts and photographs.

“Daphne’s art is absolutely scrumptious,” said Heroes‘ Vancouver-based co-curator Bernadine Fox.

“She is an articulate artist who is grounded not only in her art but in how her disability affects her life.”

Besides Enns’ pieces, Fox says, Heroes will feature multimedia work by disabled artists from B.C., Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

Enns became aware of the Kickstart initiative through the Winnipeg-based Spark Arts and Disability Network.

Founder Susan P. Gibson says Spark’s purpose is to draw attention to the often-hidden problems that disabled artists face.

“We don’t always have the same opportunities for exhibitions and grants,” Gibson said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as getting physical access to a venue.”

Manitoba Theatre for Young People’s acclaimed new play, Rick: The Rick Hansen Story, is slated to open in Vancouver March 13, also in time for the Paralympics, which showcase the prowess of disabled athletes.

The MTYP production is not associated with the Kickstart festival.

Enns, 39, is a former interior designer who lives in Wolseley with her husband, a mechanical engineer, and their two children, aged 7 and 4.

“I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a disabled artist,” she said. “Like every artist, I want to be recognized for my talent and skill.”

But at the same time she wants society to understand the physical limitation she and other disabled people face.

“I love old buildings in the Exchange,” Enns said. “But if they don’t have a hand railing on the stairs, I can’t get up to the gallery.”

morley.walker@freepress.mb.ca

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