Tracks: Disability Culture in Rhode Island

We all leave marks in our environment - some of these marks are direct, like tracks in the snow, earth, grass, sand and water, some more subtle, as we keep track of one another in space.
As disabled people, we move differently, we inhabit our world differently. Our differences present another view of the world, and of what it means to lead a fulfilled life - and our shared world is richer for these different perspectives.

This photo/poem digital exhibit is part of a year-long disability culture arts series. During 2004, community artist Petra Kuppers collaborated with VSA Arts Rhode Island by creating disability culture workshops in various rural sites in Rhode Island. In these workshops, disabled artists came together, and explored their tracks in the world through dance, photography, earth art, and creative writing.

The digitally manipulated color images collected here echo the creative sensualities and exciting differences that emerged in our sessions. The black and white photographs on the right document our processes, and show us working together. To go to larger images, click on the thumbnail images! The collaborative poems below speak of our relationship to the landscapes we inhabit and to our creative processes.

Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown: Sculpting with Coloured Clay
Burrillville Community Hall: Snow Tracks
Louett Library: Wood Chair
Goddard Park, Warwick: Beach Dancing
Misquamicut Beach: Nerve Growths
Smithfield: On the Edge of the Forest



Feeling Trip (February, Burrillville)


Nature all around

Tickly soft pine

Crunchy brown leaves

Mud puddles

Scrum of dirt water and snow

I was curious

Touching Grace

Outside of Myself


Each a different sound

Cold, moving water

Hold Cold Acorns

Mud lines

Edge of the Tangled Wood

Big Snowball on Bill's Back

Just Before Dawn

Photo Op: Warming up to Winter


We used the sense of touch

Hard, Rough Rock

Poke Melting Slush

Mud Crust

I think it was cool

Litter Blooms

Birds in Flight

Feeling and Freezing Like in a Photo

Woods in Winter

Which we always forget way too much

Smooth Wet Lily

Climb up the Tree

Mud Fun

I like Snow very much

Details Details

Ice and Light

Bringing Down the Walls of Isolation




Your hand touches mine

Fluking Up

Warmth from Nearby Others


Close, inside

Moving Around

Meeting People in a New Way

It is very relaxing

It's cold, or hot, and

- Green Flash -

A Community of Never Mets

Endless Space

Sway Away

Smiling at Others

Draw me into Movement

By the Wind, Sailor

Shining Slowly Out


Free, Alive

Having Fun

Invisible yet visible

Connecting with other Beings

Back, okay

Touching Hands

I follow




Tracks has been exhibited in multiple sites in Rhode Island. We wish to address all participants in our wider culture, and therefore the images are inserted into everyday spaces, not only in art-framed venues. Exhibition sites include coffee shops in Newport, libraries in Glocester, universities and shopping malls. The images have also travelled to exciting multiplicator events, presenting the vibrancy of Rhode Island minority culture: they have been shown in arts for social change environments at Goddard College, Vermont, a community/performance conference at Bryant University, and in a People and Emotions exhibit in Singapore.

For more information on Tracks, associated artists, exhibitions and events, go to to the Tracks news site.

The Tracks project has been made possible through generous support by the Rhode Island Foundation.

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