By: HENRY FREESE
The art exhibit, “Ability,” was created to help eliminate the negative stigmas associated with people with disabilities, especially students. In its third year, it has expanded to include artwork from community members.
The Civil Rights Heritage Center (CRHC), in connection the Office of Disability Support Services (ODSS) at IU South Bend, collaborated to bring together the exhibit. It will run from Mar. 2 through Mar. 30.
The exhibit is still welcoming submissions from student artists and community members who “self-identify as having some form of dis-/different ability,” said Interim Director of the CRHC George Garner.
According to a project statement provided by Garner, “This project is a continuation of an annual event called ‘Dismantling Stigma,’ developed in 2016 by the IU South Bend Office of Disability Support Services.”
In previous years, this exhibit has been held on campus. The change of venue this year was done for multiple reasons.
“One reason is a greater exposure to the regional community. They have many members of the community going to the Civil Rights Heritage Center, so making our presence known there is important, especially as individuals who are not limited by a disability and are not defined by a disability,” said Caryn Kuhn, disabilities specialist at the IU South Bend ODSS. “The other reason for having it there is a lot of fighting has gone into establishing rights for people with disabilities. With the setup of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), it is very much a civil right.”
Kuhn hopes that members of the community will be challenged to see disabilities, “not as a stigma, but as just a part of someone’s life. A small aspect of it.”
She hopes that the negative stigma that is associated with disability will be eliminated, and that visitors will learn to see them represented in a positive way.
Those interested in submitting work may contact the CRHC’s Interim Director George Garner at GWGarner@iusb.edu. Pieces will be chosen by Garner, Kuhn and ODSS Director Anne Drake.