Art Beyond Sight and Collaborators Celebrate Disability Pride Month

Logo Art Beyond Sight, Bring Art and Culture to All
New York

(New York): Art Beyond Sight and other cultural and community organizations team up in celebrating Disability Pride Month with the Disability Pride NYC organization. This year’s celebrations, which kicked off with a Disability Pride Parade on Sunday, July 9th that attracted 7,000+ attendees, continue with events that include“dis” an art exhibition running until July 22 at The Gallery at Industry City (274 36th Street, Brooklyn, NY) and the annual Chinatown Weekend Walks ADA Birthday Party Celebration on Sunday, July 16, at Mott Street between Canal and Worth Streets.

“We in the Chinatown community recognize we have a lot of learning and accepting to do; we know we have limitations in terms of location and physical access restrictions. However, we're looking at ways we can overcome the barriers and restrictions, both societal and physical, in order to find solutions and build bridges. We're open to change and growth; we are genuinely and deeply committed to raising awareness in order to expand our sometimes insular community and societal perspective to embrace people—particularly people with all types of disabilities—in order to build a more inclusive community. We are determined to make this happen, and we are thrilled to be once again using the Weekend Walks time—a time of great community involvement, participation and celebration—to welcome a greater and more diverse group of people in a true spirit of friendship and inclusion," said Wellington Chen, Executive Director of the Chinatown Partnership.

Chen added that the event is wheelchair accessible; the street in the event area is closed to car traffic. Two wheelchair accessible porta potties will be available along the event route: Mott Street/Canal Street and in front of 20 Mott Street. ASL interpretation will be provided for the program, which will take place between 12 noon–2 p.m.

“This month is one of celebration and unity. Now marking its third year, the Annual Disability Pride Parade and Festival brought together 7,000 diverse individuals and groups within all segments of the disability communities in order to foster the spirit of camaraderie and inclusion. Everyone at Disability Pride NYC join with Mike LeDonne, President/Founder of Disability Pride NYC, in being thrilled to work alongside all of our collaborators in the disability community. In unity comes strength. By bringing together our distinct voices in joy and pride, we jointly work towards our common goal of creating a more embracing and empowering society for people with disabilities,” said Julia Yepez-Macbeth, of Disability Pride NYC.

In addition to being a key member of the steering committee of Disability Pride NYC, which runs the Disability Pride Parade, Yepez-Macbeth is also part of Art Beyond Sight and the Dedaulus Foundation’s inaugural Art and Disability Institute (ADI) exhibition, “dis,”at The Gallery at Industry City (274 36th St., Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY).

The dis exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will run through July 22, 2017. It showcases the work of the inaugural artists of Art Beyond Sight’s Art and Disability Institute (ADI), a critical study, studio and professional development program designed to serve visual artists, art historians, curators and critics in early or transitional periods of their careers. Participants include people with disabilities and individuals whose work directly engages with disability themes.

“ADI’s primary goal is to provide participants with the opportunity to engage in rigorous critical study and studio practice and advance their careers,” said Elisabeth Axel, ADI Project Director and ABS President and CEO. “Through the continued growth and success of ADI, ABS aims to foster and expand professional opportunities for artists with disabilities so they, in turn, can make vital contributions toward diversification of NYC's art world via increased access for artists of all abilities. While taking advantage of the wealth of artistic opportunities NYC has to offer new and emerging visual artists with disabilities and contributing to dismantling access barriers for artists with disabilities, ABS hopes to continue to shape the dialogue on diversity in the visual arts & thus make a positive impact for all artists.”

“The five artists participating in this pilot program studied with art historians, established artists, theorists, and museum/gallery professionals. They acquired and refined necessary tools to articulate, contextualize, and actively develop ideas and strategies for removing barriers for artists with disabilities, enabling them to better reach their full creative and professional potential,” noted Zoya Kocur, Co-Lead, Faculty Member and CurriculumDesigner for the inaugural ADI.

“The Art and Disability Institute does extraordinary work, helping to ensure that emerging artists with disabilities have opportunities for exhibition, professional network-building and critical reception,” said Tom Finkelpearl, NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner. “I applaud ADI for this exciting program and exhibition in celebration of the Disability Pride Parade and Festival. My agency is a proud supporter of ADI, which helps us continue to meaningfully work toward our shared vision for a more equitable, inclusive and vibrant city where every resident can participate in New York’s rich cultural life.”

“It has been extremely rewarding to partner with Art Beyond Sight on the Art and Disability Institute. This initiative is crucial to promoting inclusion of professionals with disabilities in the larger art world, increasing the potential for all individuals with disabilities to see themselves reflected in art, and promoting diversity and increasing awareness among audiences, curators, and patrons of the arts in New York City. The inaugural ADI cohort includes exceptionally strong artists creating work of the highest quality. It has been a privilege to collaborate with them on this exhibition,” said Katy Rogers, Programs Director and board member at the Dedalus Foundation.

The opening exhibit included leading stakeholders and dignitaries from across government, non-profit, philanthropic, disability and inclusion, and the arts and culture arenas. They enjoyed the artwork of the exhibition artists — Gema Álava, Emilie Gossiaux, Annie Leist, Anthony Ptak, Gordon Sasaki, Julia Yepez (see attached for brief biographies of each) — all of whom were on hand to share in the creative dialogue and receive favorable acclaim from the audience.Converging their diverse body of work under the banner of dis, these exhibition artists redefine disability as both a subjective and objective experience. Their personal relationship to disability falls along a broad continuum, as does the relationship of disability to their work. Collectively, they form a cross section of the many ways artists working with and around disability contribute towards broadening conversations on the potential of art.

Art Beyond Sight’s partners, supporters and key ADI team members includethe Dedalus Foundation, which provided the home for the ADI Institute, as well as its public programming and the dis exhibition. Support for this pilot year of ADI and its public program was provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

About Art Beyond Sight

Art Beyond Sight (ABS), a 501(c)(3) formerly known as Art Education for the Blind, is the leading voice and clearinghouse for best practices on accessibility and multi-sensory learning through the arts. We inspire and provide resources across the cultural sector for the full integration of people with disabilities. When the organization began in 1987, our mission was to make art and visual culture accessible to those with vision loss. Over time we found our multisensory methods also help people with other disabilities. Our mission has expanded to support access to art and cultural offerings for people with many types of physical or cognitive disabilities. Now ABS techniques, curricula, and programs are used by museums, schools, and cultural providers around the world.

About Chinatown Partnership

Chinatown Partnership, led by Wellington Chen, was formed to bring residents, business owners and community groups together to rebuild Chinatown following 9/11, and to preserve the neighborhood's unique culture while ensuring its vitality in the future through strategic positioning. With the highly popular Weekend Walks Street Festival series, Mid-Autumn Festival, One Day in NYC, annual Beautification/Earth Day, East West Parade with Little Italy, Double Valentine’s Day to promote the softer side of Chinatown and the Jewelry District and all the cafes, eateries in the area, Explore Chinatown marketing initiative, and Mid-Autumn Night Market and Taste of Chinatown street events, Chinatown Partnership helps promote the area as a special destination to
live, work and visit.

About Disability Pride NYC

Disability Pride NYC was founded by Mike LeDonne, who is a jazz musician. His daughter, Mary, was born with multiple disabilities and it was through his love for her that he decided he wanted the rest of the world to see what he sees and know what he knows: That she and others like her are just another diverse and beautiful aspect of humanity.

DPNYC is comprised of a group of dedicated volunteers from the disability community hoping to raise awareness and change the way the public perceives people with disabilities. The non-profit group seeks to tear down walls both within the community and outside it, and instill a sense of pride in all people with disabilities. To help spread this awareness DPNYC has created an annual event in New York City, the Disability Pride Parade. The first parade took place in July of 2015 and had 4000 attendees. The celebration occurs in July to coincide with the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act being signed into law.

About Dedalus Foundation

The Dedalus Foundation was founded in 1981 by the artist Robert Motherwell in order to foster public understanding of modern art and modernism. In fulfilling this mission, the Foundation operates programs in arts education, research and publications, archives and conservation, and exhibitions, as well as in the guardianship and study of Robert Motherwell’s art. The Foundation partners with arts- and community-based organizations to amplify and supplement existing arts programming with an emphasis on creating place for dialogue and self-realization.

Photos of the dis exhibition’s opening event and of the artwork of inaugural artists, as well as of 2016 ADA Weekend Walk event in Chinatown, are available to the press upon request. For more information and/or to request high-resolution versions of images, please contact Christine Donnellan of Art Beyond Sight at

Photo credit for dis exhibition:

Photos by Iliana Ortega courtesy of the Dedalus Foundation

Photo credit for photos from 2016 ADA Weekend Walk event in Chinatown

Photos courtesy of Chinatown Partnership

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