“AS IS” challenges the notions of a product-based-model oriented gallery space by asking for the radical acceptance of artists’ unique and diverse processes as makers. Our goal is to challenge audience expectations of what it means to be Disabled, to be an ‘artist,’ and to bring marginalized identities into a gallery space.
COVID-19 has been a shock and a challenge to all. But to disabled folks, the pandemic and its aftermath have activated waves of burnout, executive dysfunction, fatigue, chronic pain, and much more. Partnering with OCAD’s Disability Community & Culture Group (DCCG), the ODESI Gallery holds a space which invites artists to come as they are. This intimate gallery offers a place of respite, encourages audiences to let go of expectations, welcomes non-conforming bodies, and recognizes others’ lived experiences.
We want to honour ‘Disabled’ methods of working by being inclusive and by understanding how time constraints, the pandemic, and various other factors may have an impact on the access needs of Disabled members. Therefore, rather than continuing the harm of asking Disabled bodies and minds to be restricted to the confines of traditional gallery standards, we are building a space that represents a continuum of multiple Disabled bodies and minds.
Emily Flynn, Yuan Liu, Laaya Tabei, Lizzie Lewington, Alejandra Mendoza, Jane Qin, Fraser Watt, and Ali Brown
billie MacFarland is a 29 year old non-binary artist and painter from Toronto, Ontario. Through a practice rooted in curiosity and play, billie explores themes of love, grief and the power of fulfilling relationships of all kinds. They are dedicated to remaining silly and soft-hearted amid ongoing mental illnesses and disability, and to doing their work of teaching and learning that the only way forward is through.
billie in blue (after Barkley L. Hendricks)
66”x50”, acrylic on canvas
This is an ode to American artist Barkley L. Hendricks’ life-size portraits of marginalized subjects. I was drawn to the idea of portraying myself, an autistic person who uses visible accommodations, by using Hendricks’ representational language through composition and style. To be true to myself, I also wanted to portray myself “in my own world”. My headphones and sunglasses obscure my face but are also things that exude self-confidence. Being disabled doesn’t mean being timid!
The Stars are Dancing for You
12”x18”, Mixed media on watercolour paper
Gazing at the moon unites all beings from all times. This scene evokes quietness but not stillness, with the shooting stars and fireflies adding dynamism. It’s really easy to feel lonely, and so it’s nice to be reminded that you’re never alone and that connection exists in many forms. Sometimes it’s as easy as just looking up at the sky.
Dream Come True
6”x23.5”, gouache on found wooden board
I painted this piece after I found out I’d been accepted to OCAD. After two years of pandemic solitude, I realized that I needed to pursue my dreams of making art. I tried to capture the joy of accomplishment in doing something hard but worthwhile. It’s painted on a piece of found wood, which speaks to the universal capability of change and growth. We can all refashion our surroundings and ourselves.
Sandra (she/her) is 20 years old and lives just outside of Toronto. She recently got into working with ceramics, but doesn't have access to a studio at the moment. When she gets access again, she's going to make some really amazing looking cups, bowls, and brand new eyeball-related hodgepodges.
Width (of palm): 6 cm. Length: 7 cm. Height: 8.5 cm. Visitors are encouraged to pick up and hold the ceramic (with caution)
Cradle is a ceramic artwork that was created instead of drawing or painting, like I’d usually done. I missed being able to make my thoughts visible and physical. Since my eye pain limited the time and effort I could put into focusing on small details on paper, the process of hand-sculpting, while not a total solution, got me excited about creating something again. I liked how much of it relied on the physical sensation of the form, not just how it looks. Around the time I made this, I thought a lot about my eyes, how they helped me and how they affected me now that they hurt more. I didn’t think too much about the meaning of this ceramic when I was making it. Honestly, a big factor was that I have an inexplicable love for the look of eyeballs. And making it didn’t feel like a sad thing. I was having fun. But there’s a relation between what you make and things you feel. There was a relation between my emotions and a hand holding an eyeball. I felt that, this important thing in my life, I’d cradle it. To inspect it, to understand it. To plead with it. To have it be held, and nod comfortingly at it.
Aliyah is a multidisciplinary storyteller and musician. Whether it be in her films, short stories, music, or illustrations, it is clear that Aliyah’s work is an ode to the power of voice. Aliyah's independent films feature stream of consciousness narratives and archived audio compilations that she pieces together in mixed media documentary films. Through the use of vibrant mixed media works, moving layers of text combined with original musical compositions, Aliyah has proven her place as an alchemist of the audio-visual narrative in her attempts to present the vibrancy of the human experience.
3x3 feet. Ink on Paper
AURATIC TRACE, an illustration accompanied by a short film, is the outline of an intrinsic yearning to connect to a world in which I find myself included but excluded simultaneously from as a neurodivergent individual. Utilizing anamorphic techniques, the work appears different depending on one's distance from the piece, and travels between two optical registers. Reflecting upon an imagined perspective of the earth visually, a vast grouping of colored points allude to a sense of overwhelm and the overstimulation one experiences in an effort to join something bigger than oneself.
I signify a way of life and the process of my practice that pushes the viewer to look at things differently, rather than expect me to change in order to be seen. Accompanying the illustration will be a monitor and headphones that play a film I created that prompt viewers to engage in actively listening to the story connected to the work that showcases the process of its creation.
At your own pace! Slow and steady. It does not have to be a race.
Print on A1 Paper - Originally Marker on Paper (23.4 × 33.1 inches.)
Life is vibrant. Beautiful, but overstimulating. I am slowly making peace with the way I experience the world. Exiting the shell but embracing what keeps me safe, at my own pace. This is that feeling.
Ali Brown (she/her) is a mixed media artist, focused on documenting the present and reflecting on and collaborating with her past using personal archives such as home videos, childhood drawings, and family photos. She is currently located in Mississauga, Ontario, pursuing her BFA in Drawing and Painting at OCADU.
For the Cost of a Spoonie
29x15 inches at furthest points (head to toe, pinky to pinky). Burlap, Embroidery Floss, Yarn, Post-It Notes, To-Do lists, Calendars, Used palette paper
For the Cost of a Spoonie comments on the overwhelm of typically structured education as experienced by a student with an invisible disability; a month-long documentation of the toll that keeping up with a “standard” workload puts on my body, and how all my spoons are spent. The red yarn represents a daily inventory of where my pain or symptoms were located; the motion of needle punch cathartic as instead of my body inflicting pain unto me without a say in the matter I inflicted pain unto it, taking control of where and how it is felt and experienced. Sewing the body by hand and stuffing it with daily planners, used palette paper, assignment sheets and other tools from the month, it burst at the seams…the hands and fingers started to fray and disintegrate, creating these uncanny things that didn’t necessarily resemble realistic hands and fingers, unintentionally having me reflect on and mourn for my pre-symptomatic body. When my hands were my hands, under my control, not in pain or making involuntary movements during unwelcome times.
Methods of Coping (Getting By)
Methods of Coping (Getting By) is a video representation of the over-the-counter, prescription, and distraction tools I use as a person with chronic pain. The title comments on the fact that these products don’t necessarily make symptoms “go away” (sometimes, they don’t even help at all), but they help make “all the things” a little more bearable. Presented as video documentation for ease of exhibition; Methods of Coping (Getting By) is intended to be a site specific installation projected within the running water of a bath tub with bubbles and dissolved epsom salts; another method of getting by.
Aysia Tse (she/her) is an emerging artist majoring in Life Studies and minoring in Art and Social Change at OCAD University. Interested in the intersections of community education, art and activism, Aysia is building a socially engaged practice that connects to constructive action within communities. In addition to her public and community arts work, her practice is currently expanding to integrated media and themes relating to culture and identity. As a co-organizer of the Shoes Off Collective, Aysia has recently been organizing public art installations, community workshops, exhibitions and more.
Text Element Poster: Disability Manifesto
This poster installation features phrases I created for a Disability Manifesto zine. Each phrase serves as a declaration, statement, or commitment to embody the resistance of colonial, capitalist and therefore ableist systems and ideologies.
“Normal” and “ideal” are socially constructed and dependent on cultural and economic contexts.
WE REFUSE to let the colonial, capitalist, patriarchal ideas of the “ideal” dictate our sense of capability, desirability, worthiness, and value as people.
WE RESIST the constant categorization of colonial capitalist systems that are imposed upon disabled, racialized, and queer communities.
WE IMAGINE a future where health and wellness is prioritized over all profit and our systems are grounded in ethics of radical care.
Largely informed by personal experiences with mental illness, things that are obstructed and understood through cultural practices, and the disappearing act of my sense of self.
Trying to understand and sometimes put on hold my inner workings in order to understand my relationships outside of myself.
Starting in analog drawing and painting practices, mainly graphite, watercolour, and the smushing of coloured pencils.
Now, moving towards more experimental practices and an interest in audio to create a more dimensional sense of existence and understanding what it is to be grounded in an ‘otherworld’.
A collection of works in progress from several different projects occupying different spaces within folder spaces on my laptop.
Words_The spaces start in unfinished stories compiled from dreams about cultish unrememberings and notdreams, and the sadness of sickly being. ShortFilm_They continue with a foreground of a blurred concept board.
A nephew who is now responsible for the safety of his uncle following a fugue state and the lives he fabricates for them through the lens of a child.
Using this as an introduction to the idea of not being blindsided by one’s own experiences when trying to understand other’s.
Superimposed are personal and impersonal photographs pertaining to this.
Game_The spaces end with parts of an experimental horror game involving themes of religion and looping back to the idea of cultish unrememberings, this time involving the grief of lost selves, the unknowing of one’s self, and the gutting that follows.
You and I - The Human Experience
Mixed Media , 13.58 × 16.14in, 2022
This is about ME trying to capture the human experience.
I would say MY own life is a unique experience. Of course, OTHERS have experienced similar events but not one human is the same.
Even if two different people were to face the same situation the outcome would be entirely different not only in that moment but in every moment following, even interjecting in a life OTHER than their own.
I feel that if WE were to fully understand everyone's life situations and complexities it would be difficult to live OUR own lives.
I do not think it is essential to understand someone else's life and all its intricacies, as THEIR lives weave into so many others including YOUR own, but to consider that neither YOU or I understand everything about another human, even MYSELF to THE PERSON READING THIS. So please, be understanding.
Fraser Watt is a cool guy who makes things. He strives to combine the absurd with the thoughtful, the silly with the tears. His art is play and process, ideas that guide his day-to-day life as well as his art practice. You can find him on Instagram @fraserthefish.
MY BODY, MY BONES
This was a catchy little phrase that I thought of. A lot of the little phrases I come up with for graphic design pieces like this are often from vocal stims that I cannot stop saying because they just feel so fun and silly to say. And also I think there is a deeper meaning to it in regards to disabled bodily autonomy and whatnot. And I mean this /gen cuz like yes it is my body and my bones and please do not steal them. Also as a trans person like the thing of cis people being like “oh, when they find your bones they’ll think you were a woman” but literally that science is BS and actually isn’t true.
Kiley Brennan creates artwork as an extension of their identity, and as a challenge to the status quo. Their art seeks to represent the experiences associated with being a marginalized person in a modern society; it is extension of their own journey as a trans, autistic, queer individual. Their work refuses to comply with the idea that anyone can take away equal meaning from a work of art, as their art is intended to speak directly to fellow marginalized individuals and communities, while alienating those in power.
Kiley believes that art is a powerful storytelling tool that allows those who have been silenced by oppression to have a voice and to be heard.
A Collection of Autistic Characters in Media
As an autistic individual, it’s quite difficult to relate to the people around me; I don’t understand them and, typically, they don’t understand me. Instead, I find that certain characters from my favourite shows, movies, and video games are far more relatable than real people. Even before I was diagnosed as autistic, I could see myself, my autistic traits, in these characters, and I could feel a connection with them that I hadn’t been able to experience with the neurotypical people in my life.
I’m not alone in this experience; many autistic people feel closer to fictional characters than they do regular people. We label these characters as autistic themselves because we can see it. All the signs and traits and quirks are right there, whether it was intentional or not. I made this zine with fellow autistic individuals in mind, to share some of my personal favourite autistic characters with them, and to indulge in autistic headcanons (a headcanon is an idea held by fans of media that is not explicitly supported by said media).
This concept of headcanon, specifically autistic headcanon, is often foreign to neurotypical people; when I label a character as autistic, they often dispute it: “it’s not autism, that’s just how the character is.” Why can’t it be autism? Seeing them as autistic doesn’t remove any of their traits or characteristics. It’s purely additive. My hope for allistic (non-autistic) people reading this zine is that seeing these characters and their traits laid out in detail will help them gain a better understanding of autism and headcanon. I also hope that someone reading this zine might find themselves relating heavily to the characters and traits listed, so much so that they might end up learning something new about themselves.
Print of digital artwork
I was inspired to make this work after reading Poka Laenui’s Processes of Decolonization. In this piece I chose to focus on the decolonization of gender/sex because it is something that I, as a trans person, can speak to directly. Over the course of human history, various cultures have had differing views on gender/sex, however, colonization has forced our collective views on this topic to be rigid and binary.
Trans and intersex people have always existed, and we represent the infinite ways in which an individual could experience their own gender/sex. This work is meant to connect to that infinte experience through the overlaying of diverse bodies; it seeks to decolonize gender/sex through rediscovery and recovery, in accordance with Laenui’s first step of decolonization.
Arwen Muir Karaszewski
Arwen Muir Karaszewski (she/he/they) is a queer interdisciplinary artist who explores themes of mental health, identity and imagination. Art is my form of expression and communication. Many of my pieces have been made from turmoil while others are made for the joy of creation. I am a sponge who soaks up inspiration from personal and collective stories, nature and the wonders of the mind. Currently, I am exploring ways to channel childhood, use sustainable practices and explore possibilities for a brighter future.
I thought a thought, electricity running through my mind. It is understandable why we're so overwhelmed. A complex lump in all our heads processing the world, evolving and working to survive. So much garbage seeps into our senses, how do we escape it? Why is there so much?
Here it is on display, your mind sensing my mind; sensing the process of creation, resistance; sensing the blind contours of my frontal cortex and candy-wrapper gray matter. I want to show how frequently we produce and consume disposable materials by repurposing them in the sculpture of a brain. This is created solely from hot glue and garbage I selectively kept over a few weeks. In viewing this piece, you see my unique circuitry bedazzled with trash, turned into treasure.
Your Mind Sensing Mine
Recycled materials and hot glue, 12’ x 12’ x 5’
Your Mind Sensing Mine connects viewers to the artist and disposable materials used to create a brain. This piece is created solely from hot glue and garbage. The brain is a fascinatingly complicated organ that shapes who we are and how we sense the world. Like a computer, it automatically runs programs to sustain our survival. In viewing this piece, your brain links with mine and my mind to you.
“AS IS” features work from OCAD U students from the Disability Community & Culture Group (DCCG), a space for students to explore and celebrate disability identity, culture and community through the lens of personal experience, Disability Studies, and disability justice movements. If you would like to join, email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org
This exhibit was originally part of the APRÈS QUOI festival, which happened in three OCAD U galleries in April and May 2023. Students from Pam Patterson’s Museums, Galleries, and Alternates class curated all three exhibits.
We would like to thank the students in Pam Patterson’s course who curated the exhibition (Emily Flynn, Yuan Liu, Laaya Tabei, Lizzie Lewington, Alejandra Mendoza, Jane Qin, Fraser Watt, and Ali Brown), and acknowledge the leadership of Pam Patterson and Ali Brown, and the support of the staff of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Sustainability Initiatives (ODESI)
APRÈS QUOI would like to thank the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Sustainability Initiatives (Cathy Cappon & Victoria Ho), Office of Research and Innovation, Writing and Learning Centre (Laura Thrasher, Lex Burgoyne, and Emil Doersam), The Disability Community and Culture Group, and the Faculty of Art for their support for this project.