Disability Art, Aesthetics, and Access: Creating Exhibitions in a Liberal Arts Setting

Jessica Cooley, Ann M. Fox


In this essay we discuss the strategies and concepts behind two separate disability arts exhibitions we co-curated at Davidson College in 2009: RE/FORMATIONS: DISABILITY, WOMEN, AND SCULPTURE and STARING.  First, as curators who have mounted two disability arts exhibitions in the context of a small liberal arts college, we offer insights from our practical experience related to conceptualizing and producing a show focused around disability and art: its shape, funding, and display.  It is our hope these will be useful to curators, but also to those who have little or no curatorial experience.  Our comments will emphasize the context of the liberal arts college, but many of the central issues we confronted would be relevant to mounting such exhibitions in other settings.  Second, in discussing the dialogues about disability that emerged within and from our two exhibitions (RE/FORMATIONS: Disability, Women, and Sculpture and STARING), we want to provide some answers from our own experience to the question: what compelling issues and ideas emerge at the intersection of access, disability aesthetics, and art when creating such exhibitions?


Keywords: art, disability art, curator, curating disability, liberal arts college, exhibitions, disability aesthetics, RE/FORMATIONS, STARING, staring, Harriet Sanderson, Laura Splan, Nancy Fried, Judith Scott, Rebecca Horn, Doug Auld, Chris Rush, access, exhibition access, sculpture, breast cancer, intellectual disability, polio, burn survivors



art; disability art; curator; curating disability; liberal arts college; exhibitions; disability aesthetics; access; exhibition access; sculpture; breast cancer; intellectual disability; polio; burn survivors

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v34i1.3288

Copyright (c) 2014 Jessica Cooley, Ann M. Fox

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