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Kendall Student/ArtPrize Artist Invited to National Disability Arts Festival

Posted February 19, 2013 in StudentPublic

Disabilities and Sexuality ArtPrize artist Robert Andy Coombs to participate in panel discussion at Bodies of Work Festival of Disability Art and Culture

Top 25 ArtPrize artist and Kendall College of Art & Design student Robert Andy Coombs has been invited to participate in the Bodies of Work Festival of Disability Art and Culture in Chicago, IL by the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago.  A Bodies of Work organizer noticed Coombs work during ArtPrize 2012, where his provocative and thought-provoking portrait seriesDisability and Sexuality was chosen for the 2-Dimensional Juror Short List and made the top 25 popular vote.

"Robert is a remarkable artist, whose work is all the more stunning because it not only explores the territory of sexuality shared by all humans but does so from the vantage point of personal experience that questions identity in complex and multiple ways,” said David Rosen, Ph.D., president of Kendall College of Art and Design. “Robert is courageous in his work. And while courage is not enough to create great art, it is an ingredient without which great art can seldom be made. His voice is strong and vital and his imagery vivid.  I find myself compelled by what his work expresses and I am proud of his accomplishments."

The Bodies of Work Festivalis a ten-day, multi-venue event throughout Chicago featuring visual and performing arts that address disability issues and highlight the work of artists with disabilities. The festival presents cutting-edge disability arts and culture that include theatrical performances, dance, literature, poetry, spoken word, film, visual arts exhibitions, lectures, and panel discussions.

“I was honored to be asked by the University of Chicago to participate in a discussion and screening of Nobody’s Perfect, a documentary film that focuses on people born disabled,” said Coombs. “It intrigued me that there is an entire festival that focuses on disabilities and the arts.  The event illuminates the disability experience in new and unexpected ways.”

"When putting together the panel, I wanted to make sure we had not only a local artist's voice, but also a student's voice. In my research, I was thrilled to find an artist who was dealing with questions parallel to the film, and also an art student that I feel will inspire our students think about disability and sexuality in new ways,”  said Leigh Fagin, Assistant Director of Collaborative Programming at the Logan Center.  “We are excited to bring Robert to the Logan Center during our inaugural year of programming and we know that his visit will be a great contribution to the city-wide festival."

 “I definitely saw some parallels between my work and the photography within the film by documentarian, Niko von Glasow, said Coombs. “Being disabled can be a huge disadvantage, however despite being disabled, you really can achieve your dreams.”

Robert Coombs ArtPrize entry, Disabilities and Sexuality is a series of evocative, black-and-white nude photographs of young men with varying degrees of physical disability. Coombs, who is himself disabled, wanted to humanize these people by focusing on their sexuality. His work can be viewed online at http://www.artprize.org/robert-coombs/2012/disabilities-and-sexuality.

The Nobody’s Perfect screening will take place at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, May 22 at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago, 915 E. 60th Street (at Drexel Ave.), Chicago, IL 60637, with the panel discussion immediately following.

 

Kendall College of Art & Design
As a unique part of Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design prepares students for leadership in the visual arts, design, art history, and art education; provides innovative, collaborative education that fosters intellectual growth and individual creativity; and promotes the ethical and civic responsibilities of artists and designers, locally and globally. For more information, please visit www.kcad.edu.

Bodies of Work (BOW), a network of artists and organizations, is a catalyst for disability arts and culture that illuminates the disability experience in new and unexpected ways. Disability art refers to the creative work by people with disabilities that reflects advisability experience, either in content or form, and can be found in every artistic media from the performing arts, literature, and visual arts to comic books, film, and design. BOW perceives disability art as playing a key role in articulating what disability means politically, personally, and aesthetically, and that meaning translates into what many in the disability community considers our “culture.”

The Bodies of Work Festival is a ten-day, multi-venue event featuring visual and performing arts that address disability issues and highlight the work of artists with disabilities. The festival presents cutting-edge disability arts and culture that include theatrical performances, dance, literature, poetry, spoken word, film, visual arts exhibitions, lectures, and panel discussions. Outside the festival dates, Bodies of Work presents monthly performances by artists with disabilities across Chicago, as a program based in the Department of Disability and Human Development at UIC.

The documentary film Nobody’s Perfect follows Niko von Glasow as he looks for eleven people who, like him, were born disabled due to the disastrous side-effects of Thalidomide, and who are prepared to pose for a book of photos. And to pose naked - to allow those who regularly throw furtive glances at Thalidomiders and other physically disabled people, to take a good, long look. In the process Niko discovers many fascinating characters who work in such diverse areas as politics, the media, sport, astrophysics and acting. Characters that have learned to live with their disability to an impressive level of “normality”.

The Reva and David Logan Center for the Artsis a new multidisciplinary arts center at the University of Chicago. Designed by renowned architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the 184,000 square foot building integrates a dynamic mix of spaces to create a rich environment for arts and scholarship. Built to foster collaboration and creative inquiry across the artistic spectrum, the Logan Center is a home for teaching, practice, exhibition, and performance. It features a range of programs and facilities that support the work of University of Chicago faculty, students, visiting artists and scholars, arts organizations, and community partners.

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