a slim women's back with two unusually formed hands, two fingers each, inserted in jewelry, held in front of a beige flesh-colored pants with cutouts that reveal skin marks

Symposium Program Disability/Culture: New Grounds 2015, February 3rd to 6th

In our seventh practice-based research symposium at the University of Michigan, and as the Initiative on Disability Studies’ 2015 Conference, we explore diversity and difference in cultural approaches to disability, and celebrate local, national and international disability culture(s). We will be joined by disability culture artists and performers from Australia, Canada and across the US.

All events at the Duderstadt Video Performance Studio, at the University of Michigan's North Campus, unless otherwise marked. Events generally open to the public are noted. If you wish to participate in a particular session beyond these, please contact us, and we can send you readings to prepare. 


Tuesday 3rd of February 2015

2pm Welcome. Introductions. Set-up of Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi’s Communal Sewing Corner: a good place to assemble and chill, observe workshops and spend breaks

4-6: OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Bree Hadley, Contemporary Performance and Disability in Australia and beyond.
Presentation by Eliza Chandler and Lindsay Fisher: Crip Interiors Exhibit: about a Toronto Disability Arts Exhibit (45 mins). Open discussion.

Wednesday 4th of February

10-11  Stephanie Heit: Warm-Up: Contemplative Movement Practice (with Writing Option). Bring a journal to write in, or art supplies if you like to draw.

11.30-1 Maricela DeMirjyn: Workshop: Critical Disability Counter-Stories

1-2.30 Lunch Break with networking and skills exchange (last 30 mins: photo shoot opportunity with Olimpias collaborator Lisa Steichmann)

2.30-4 Bree Hadley Performance Workshop: Unfamiliar Destinations

4.15-5.30 Irene Loughlin Participatory Performance: "What are we waiting for?" (location somewhere in the Duderstadt Complex)

Thursday 5th of February

10-11.30  Sandie Yi performance development, with Cheryl Kaplan Zachariah and Ryan Parrey (first hour development with mini-group, then sharing with fellow participants at 11am).

11.45 -12.45 Bronwyn Preece performance/writing workshop: …emBODYing the poetry of…

12.45-2.30 Lunch Break, with Bronwyn Preece performance (location to be confirmed)

2.30-3.30 Rebekah Taussig workshop: life writing

3.45-5.30 Petra Kuppers’s Social Somatic followed by Final Sharing Prep
Friday 6th of February

9.30 Gathering, meditation, discussion (in Central Collaboration Area).

10-1 OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Poster-Session in Studio: posters will be accessible to the public throughout the morning.
Posters will include:

DisArt Festival, Grand Rapids
The Hope Crane Project, University of Michigan
Transit Policy and Disability Activism, by David Weinreich, a Doctoral Candidate at University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Disability at Michigan Law: Accessibility, Equality and Awareness, by Cari Carson (UMInDS class project, included in the Law School's Orientation Folders)
Disability Culture Photography exhibit by Lisa Steichmann
Poetry Collaborations: Césaire (Zé) Carroll-Domínguez

11-12.30 Public Sharing (in Studio). Any sharings that have been developed, discussions, rituals.

Fellows and Guests:

Eliza Chandler is the Post-Doctoral Fellow in the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University, where she researches the history, contemporary practices, and possible futures of D/deaf, disability, and mad arts in Canada. She is also the Artistic Director at Tangled Art + Disability. She is the co-director of the disability arts project, Creative Users, and she is a practicing artist.

Beth Currans is an Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Eastern Michigan University.  Her primary research explores how people, especially social outsiders, claim and remake public spaces through public demonstration.  She's also interested in cities as historically sedimented sites for public performances, performance as a mode of activist intervention, and the use of photography in public demonstrations.

Dr. Maricela DeMirjyn is an associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at Colorado State University.  Her doctorate is from UCSB in Cultural Perspectives and Chicana & Chicano Studies.  Dr. DeMirjyn has a MA in Women’s Studies, emphasis in art therapy.  She teaches queer creative expressions, women of color feminisms, and critical disability studies, as well as qualitative methodologies. 

Lindsay Fisher is a visual artist, crafts person, curator, guerrilla entrepreneur, and community activist living in Toronto, Ontario. She works with social justice groups, disability rights movements and anti-oppressive community based organizations to create and support the development of inclusive and socially conscious graphic design. She works with Project Creative Users, a community research project funded by the Ontario Arts Council.

Bree Hadley is Senior Lecturer in Performance Studies at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Her work on identity and spectatorship in contemporary, pop cultural and public space performance has appeared in Disability, Public Space Performance and Spectatorship: Unconscious Performers (Palgrave 2014). Hadley is currently President of the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies (ADSA) and a Director of Performance Studies international (PSi).

Stephanie Heit received a BA in Dance and MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University.  As an artist living with bipolar disorder, she engages with herself and the world through multiple creative practices: movement as a dancer and massage therapist and words as a poet and teacher.  Awarded a Poetry Fellowship from the Colorado Council on the Arts, her manuscript, Quiet Anatomy, was a finalist for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize from Ahsahta Press.

Cheryl Kaplan Zachariah is a Writer, Director, Dramaturg, Actor, and Theatre Arts Integration Specialist.  She is a PhD student in Disability Studies at University of Illinois at Chicago, focusing on disability, illness and performance.  Her professional work utilizes theater to illuminate social issues.  She has a B.A. from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in Directing (Theater) from University of Iowa. 

Irene Loughlin is an interdisciplinary artist. She recently presented at the Month of Performance Art Berlin through the Enabled Manifesto project, a workshop that culminated in a collective, corporeal manifesto grounded in disability theory and practice.  She is a former member of Gallery Gachet, Vancouver, and a past recipient of the Lynch Staunton Award, Canada Council for the Arts, for mid-career, interdisciplinary practice.

Ryan Parrey is a disability studies scholar whose research examines the way(s) in which meanings and experiences of disability/impairment shape, and are shaped by, everyday encounters. Working with texts – somatographic works, writ large - he takes up the ontological and ethical dimensions of disorientation as a bodily and social phenomenon.

Bronwyn  Preece lives off-the-grid in British Columbia. Improvisational performer, pioneer of earthBODYment , applied theatre practitioner, author, walking and visual eARThist: currently pursuing a PhD exploring through site-specific performance  the embodied intersections of ecology and disability. Author of Gulf Islands Alphabet (2012) and In the Spirit of Homebirth (2015); she served six years in local politics, being the youngest woman ever elected to her post. Bronwyn has Wilson’s Disease.  

Rebekah Taussig is in the third year of her PhD in creative non-fiction and disability studies at the University of Kansas. She is the assistant nonfiction editor for Beecher’s and writes creative essays that recount and examine experiences of being different, both in body and mind.  

Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi is a PhD student in the Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL. Her work focuses on remapping the narratives of skin, flesh, scars; medical and surgical interventions on the disabled body. She is intrigued by the performance of sewing—making human marks on clothing and bodies—and how the metaphor and the act of making stitches create and redefine human intimacy.


Contact Symposium Director Petra Kuppers, petra@umich.edu
Organizing Team:
Ai Binh Ho, Crystal Yin Lie, Shannon Walton, Anthony Alterio, Jina Kim, Katherine Kidd, Dawn Kaczmar, graduate students, University of Michigan

Funding provided by UMINDS, the Rackham Disability Culture Interest Group, and the Performance Studies Interest Group.

Access Notes

CART real-time translation is provided at the sessions marked ‘Open to the Public.’ For other access requirements, please contact the organizer. Please refrain from wearing strong scents.

Poster Image by Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi, from the Crip Couture Series. A woman’s slim back, with two unusually formed hands, with two fingers each, inserted in jewelry, and held before pants with two holes that display skin marks.

What might it be like?

Maybe something similar or completely different from this:

Disability/Culture: Research in Motion Video created at the 2012 Disability/Culture Symposium


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