The creative arts can be a tool for disability activism. Blair Webb, intern at Dance non-profit Sins Invalid, shares her thoughts on Dance as a form of expression.
[The opinions and writings below are those of the guest writer, Blair Webb, and do not necessarily reflect those of Able ARTS Work]
Art can be an extremely powerful vehicle for sending messages. This form of self-expression can visualize that which is typically invisible. Art can bring to light issues that are too frequently swept under the rug. Sins Invalid, described in the book, Crip Kinship, the Disability Justice and Art Activism of Sins Invalid, by Shayda Kafai, is a disability justice performance project that centers disabled people of color and disabled queers. Patty Berne co-created Sins Invalid with Leroy Moore as a space where disabled people of color can express themselves artistically.
During Hispanic Heritage Month 2022, we spotlighted some of Sins Invalid’s Latinx artists in the 2020 production of We Love Like Barnacles: Crip Lives in Climate Chaos. Maria Palacios, also known as the goddess on wheels, used her poetry to explain the tribulations that she endured during Hurricane Harvey. She tells the audience how the disability community often has to rely on each other during an emergency, because the government is not always able to assist with our needs. Similarly, Bianca Laureano, an Afro-Latina award winning writer, showcased her literary arts talent to convey the enormous difficulty of simultaneously dealing with the grief after her mother’s death, and the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
This production one example of Patricia Berne's framework of Disability Justice, which teaches people with disabilities that we are whole, valuable, and beautiful exactly as we are as well as how we can express ourselves through performance.
Dance is one of many art forms that can be used to express our experiences. It can give us another voice.
Learn to express yourself in accessible virtual art and music workshops with us at Learn for Life.
Blair Webb is an artist with a disability who graduated from the University of California Berkley with a Bachelor's of Arts in Sociology. She has been an intern at Sins Invalid since 2018.