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Artfully honouring access

The AGO and Tangled Art + Disability teamed up on a series of videos featuring the important work of six artists.

A photo of two hands outside the frame reaching to touch a sculpture by Persimmon Blackbridge. The piece is titled “Soft Touch”, and is a handcrafted figure made of wood, bone and plastic to resemble a person constructed from found objects. It is mounted on a wood panel.

Persimmon Blackbridge. soft touch, 2019. Constructed Identities, McMaster University. Sara Wilde Photography. Courtesy of Bodies in Translation Activist Art, Technology & Access to Life. ReVision The Centre for Art & Social Justice at the University of Guelph.

Founded in 2003, Tangled Art + Disability is a Toronto-based organization dedicating itself to enhancing opportunities for artists with disabilities. Earlier this year, Tangled Art and the AGO unveiled a new collaborative project that centres the disability arts movement. Between February and June, the two groups presented six videos made by various artists from Tangled’s community, highlighting their respective practices and insights while showcasing the possibilities of a world that honours access, disability and difference. 

The partnership was spearheaded by Melissa Smith, AGO Assistant Curator, Community Programs,  who shared with us some of the inspiration and intention behind this important team effort. “This partnership was so important to me,” she said. “I’m very interested in creating platforms that share multiple perspectives, calling attention to multiple ways of knowing the world and proposing different conceptions of how we can influence the world around us – creating change in our spheres of influence. Disability culture is working to move our society into a realm that focuses on people and liberatory relationships. I’m incredibly grateful that the artists’ gifted us their perspectives and their critiques.”

Below, take a look at all six AGO Tangled Art Talks, and stay tuned in the coming weeks for more about our partnership with Tangled Art + Disability.  

 

Bruce Horvak 

This year’s first Tangled Art talk featured legally blind painter, actor and musician Bruce Horvak, who shared a short documentary about his unique approach to painting, and his massive portrait project.  

 

Persimmon Blackbridge 

Queer, disabled artist Persimmon Blackbridge is a sculptor, writer, curator and performer. Here, she creates an audio interpretation of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’s The Bathers, in which she invents voices for its models. 

 

Valentin Brown 

Valentin Brown is a visual artist specializing in mixed media images, tactile sculpture and audio narrative. In this experimental video piece, entitled Sample 01, Brown demonstrates innovative ways of practicing closed captioning and audio description.   

 

Peter Owusu-Ansah

For his talk, deaf visual artist Peter Owusu-Ansah shared insights about how his life-long relationship with art has unfolded and developed into a painting practice that boldly explores pixels and colour. 

 

Aislinn Thomas

Aislinn Thomas is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes video performance sculpture and installation. Here, Thomas guides viewers on a tour of a lakeside landscape while sharing thoughts about disability justice. 

 

Vanessa Dion-Fletcher 

Lenape and Potawatomi, neurodiverse artist Vanessa Dion-Fletcher creates art using composite media, primarily working in performance, textiles and video. Marking the final Tangled Art talk of the series, Dion-Fletcher answered questions from friends and colleagues about her practice while sharing a performance art piece. 

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