January 26, 2014

Happy News

Dear Readers,

This project started when I became curious as to why there seemed to be no clear understanding of disability in the fine arts while there seemed to be no lack of disability in actual art works.

First, in 2010, I put out a call to artists and writers.  In 2011, with the support of many volunteers and the OWCA, we put on an art show.  At that exhibition there was work by people with and without disabilities.  There were also readings and performances.

Two years later I posted the seeds, on this blog, for a book.  It was a long manuscript in its entirety. I chose not to post the ready for print PDF version which was designed universally to be accessible to the most people possible. It was incomplete without an audio book or proper coding on images for screen readers to read.  At that time, I thought the printed book would have a audio CD in it, but now I am considering other options.

Today I am happy to say that I have refocused on writing the book.  I will be editing it into a book that is one-fourth the length.  Sadly, most of the featured artists and writers from the show A Somewhat Secret Place will be cut and in their place I shall explain a framework for how we can think of disability in all areas of art.  That is everything from how we respond to art that contains the sensation of disability (lived, seen and felt) to how we talk about an artist with a disability whose work does not have anything to do with their disability. I have done this in what I have written so far but I know I can push it.

I would love to have more funding to be able to sit and work on it 24/7.  However, I do not think that will happen anytime soon.  So it may be a while before I post a finished work for download.  I am thinking around this time next year.

Also, I am back in my studio and thinking once again about painting. But my work with this topic and project is not over. TEDx  Concordia University Portland has asked me to be one of their 2014 speakers.  I have said yes.  I cannot tell you too much now, but the talk will have something to do with the appendix of the book.

Speaking of the appendix, in the summer of this last year I was able to speak with Mr. Oliver when he visited Portland, so now I have a few things to add to the appendix.  The story has continued.  The spoiler is that there is a very happy ending.

I plan on redoing some of this website to make it clearer what the show was and who supported it. I will be taking down a few pages that I no longer need. I think that many people wish that this was an ongoing project and many are sometimes confused by page content and layouts. If you like to work on websites and want to help, feel free to contact me through this blog.

Thank you to all of my loyal subscribers and followers on facebook and twitter for continuing to support me in this project. It has been nearly 4 years now.  It has been fun. That is so only because of all of the people who have been there supporting me through each stage. Thank you.


Catherine J. H. Miller

May 28, 2013

Peer Review: How should we do it?

Dear Readers,

There are only a few weeks before my grant deadline.  I have been writing on all of the five chapters over the past nine months and now I feel it is time to share.  However, I am unsure how to do it.  This is a working manuscript so editing will still be needed. I want to get some feedback to better shape the work and to be sure it reflects a plausible view of the topics I have covered.

So, I am writing to ask you all how you might like to interact with it. Should I place my writing in the blog roll with all the other posts?  Alternatively, should I make separate pages for each chapter?

The first piece that I will have to post is chapter five (the last chapter).  It is at the editor as of 7 a.m. FYI the endnotes will not be ready for posting when the writing will be.  It is a long one at 39 pages.

In fulfillment of the RACC grant that is funding this writing, and a universally designed book layout, I must post here in some way.  But I would like it to be in a way that you all can interact with it best. I hope to insert a little democracy into the making of this book. Should I only post parts of it, or all of it?  And here is a heads up, I will take down the old drafts as needed and delete comments about old drafts, so please keep this in mind as you suggest your ideas.

I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments!

Thank you all so much for your support.


Catherine J. H. Miller

May 21, 2013

Event: Manuscript Reading and Lecture


A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art 

Manuscript Reading and Lecture

By Catherine J. H. Miller

On June 25, 2013, the artist Catherine J. H. Miller will read from her manuscript and lecture on her new book’s universally-designed layout.  This project was funded in part through the generous support of a Regional Art and Culture Council (RACC) 2012 Project Grant to Individuals award.  Miller’s writing charts the provocative crossroads of disability and the fine arts.  She writes on works made by people with and without disabilities in fine art, literature and performance, suggesting new ways for us to understand the aura of disability in art and how to talk about it from her perspective as a legally blind artist.  Her book holds the potential to create a lasting impact on how art is presented in the gallery and in publications.  In her research she has raised awareness for access with organizations such as the Community Foundation Sonoma County, Oliver Ranch Foundation, Oregon Women’s Causes for Art (OWCA), Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), PRESENTspace and RACC, the effect of which is only beginning to be realized.

Event: A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art Manuscript Reading and Lecture by Catherine J. H. Miller

Where: Jack London Bar (in Rialto) 529 SW 4th Ave., Portland, OR 97204

When: Tuesday, June 25, 2013.  Doors at 5 p.m.  Lecture 6 -7 p.m.

Please note: Must be 21 or older. Accessible lift located in Rialto Off-Track Betting Bar.  Please arrive early, as the lift may have a line.  ASL provided.

Miller’s project, A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art, an exhibition (A Somewhat Secret Place) and book project, has spanned three years and involved countless organizations and individual collaborators.  Miller points to the exhibition A Somewhat Secret Place as her manuscript’s primary case study.  The show took place in the Portland Pearl District from July 7- 30, 2011 in partnership with the OWCA and PRESENTspace Gallery.  Miller made changes to the architecture of the gallery, used ASL interpreters, Braille, enlarged print, and atypical display strategies to make an art show and performance venue which was previously inaccessible accessible for the first time.

The show featured 28 works of art including paintings, sculpture, literature and performance created by 21 artists, writers and performers with and without disabilities.  The show featured ten events: a donor preview, First Thursday, writer’s workshop, opening reception with literary readings and a performance by Yulia Arakelyn, three artist talks (by Andrea Rosselle, Carmen Papalia and Erik Ferguson), ADA 21st birthday party and panel discussion, a story telling by the artist Joy Corcoran for young children and a closing reception with literary readings and a performance by singer song writer Elie Charpentier.

Miller speaks with a passion and enthusiasm that is infectious.  Miller says, “The book and the exhibition are not a product, or art object, of my project.  The real product or ‘art part’ is something less tangible and more powerful.  The ‘art’ is the conversation that the visitors and readers have in the gallery and beyond.  It is the interaction between the arts communities, the disability communities, and the wider community around words like ‘disability in the arts,’  ‘disability art,’ disability aesthetics,’ ‘disability pride art’ and un-named areas of artistic practice.”
Miller was born legally blind in Portland where she has lived her whole life.  She graduated from the PNCA class of 2008.  Currently, she presides as President and PR Secretary of the OWCA.

A special thanks to RACC.

July 29, 2011

ADA 21st Birthday Party

Dear Friends.

Thank you to the Riot! for organizing this super fun event that took place Tuesday, July 26th.  It was so fun working with Yoshi and Jamie. We had about 30 people attend, eatcake, drink

bubbly and enjoy a wonderful discussion guided by John Agusta.

I received this picture from our raffle winner, Serenity Ebert (left) who won the ADA symbol piñata I made only hours before the event.


Catherine J. H. Miller

Image caption: Serenity Ebert (left) Catherine J. H. Miller (right)

July 29, 2011

Next Event! Free and for Kids! 7/30 Noon-2


By Joy Cocoran, Photography by Jim HIll

Saturday, July 30th, at noon, artist and storyteller Joy Corcoran will engage children in the art of storytelling and the stories we can find in art.  “Feeding Your Dragon” uses fantasy to explore human variation through the use of sight, sound, touch and imagination.  Joy will encourage children to have a conversation about disability as difference and how to feed the dragon we call fear inside of all of us.  Children will experience a variety of communication styles including American Sign Language (ASL) and braille. Children will be allowed to touch Joy’s fabric sculpture called Shared Vision — a blind goddess, Iris, and her seeing-eye dragon, Aurora. This is a part of A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art which takes place at PRESENTspace Gallery at 939 NW Glisan.
Children accompanied by an adult are welcome.  Cookies and tea and soy, rice and almond milks will be served.

— Joy Corcoran

July 26, 2011

Gallery Hours on July 26th

3:30 pm-6:00 pm

Tonight we have an event in the gallery from 7-9 pm.

Please join us on Tuesday, July 26th from 7-9 pm to celebrate the 21st Birthday of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as part of the A Somewhat Secret Place exhibit. Spotlight, in association with The Riot, is sponsoring the event, which will include a conversation centered on how the ADA law, universal design, inclusion and access impact the everyday lives of people with disabilities. Cake and beverages will also be served.

This is a ticketed event. Advance tickets are available, two for $8, by going to the A Somewhat Secret Place Facebook page. The day of the event tickets will be two for $21, suggested donation.

Bob Joondeph – Executive Director, Disability Rights Oregon

Dean Westwood – Director, Center on Self-Determination at OHSU

Kristi Cule – Self-Advocate, member of the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities and Self Advocates as Leaders

Meghan Caughey – Artist, Senior Director of Peer and Wellness Services, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

Elesia Ashkenazy – Chapter and Outreach Coordinator, Autistic Self Advocacy Network

ASL interpretation will be available.

Ticket info:
(No one will be denied entrance for lack of ability to donate.)
Tickets at the door W/ FB RSVP BEFORE July 26th:

Tickets at the door day of event:

You can buy tickets at the gallery for $8 before July 26th.

Ticket purchases are considered donations. Donations for this event help us to afford the food and drink for this event.

Those who pledged to our Kickstarter at the $25 of more level will receive entrance for themselves and a guest, with no need to RSVP on FB.

July 23, 2011

Saturday July 23rd Change of Hours

Just for today our hours will be 11:00 am-4:30 pm. See you Monday!

July 19, 2011

Designed by Jim Hill of Working Class Press

July 14, 2011

Andrea Rosselle: HEM ME IN

Artist Andrea Rosselle writes:

“Dear Friends:

This Thursday, July 14th at 6:00, I will be giving an artist lecture as part of a group show I am in this summer. The show is called “A Somewhat Secret Place” and is currently at 939 NW Glisan in the Pearl District.

This show contains work by disabled and able-bodied individuals whose work deals with issues of disability. The show hopes to bring about conversations surrounding the role of the disabled in the art community.

My current work explores the imposition of the medical object, and experience as a medical body, upon the daily act of living. My artist lecture, Hem Me In, will be a dialogue about the medicalization of the human body within visual culture, and the role of the body as a medical object.

The show is in PRESENTspace, which is a “pop-up” gallery; a gallery which occupies unused spaces around the city. 939 is a commercial space, so don’t be fooled if you come to the address and find an alternative space- we are there just find the right door! 939 (next to 937 whose number is prominently displayed) is on the corner of Glisan and 10th.

Have a wonderful week! –Andrea Rosselle

*There will be an ASL interpreter. Please avoid bringing scented items into the space. “

June 20, 2011


We did not reach our Kickstarter fund raising  goal, and that means no money for our show:(

So we have created a new Kickstarter!!! Our new goal is $1,800, which is the minimum amount we need to cover the gallery rent. Our budgetary needs are much greater. This new Kickstarter goal does not cover insurance, printing, installation of the show, catering, artist stipends, chair rentals, nor wages for staff.

If we do not reach our new goal we will not receive any of the pledged money, Kickstarter Backers will not be charged and we will not receive any money for our exhibition.

If you have pledged to our old Kickstarter we are requesting that you switch your pledge to our new Kickstarter:


Thank you for your continued support and goodwill.