What is this project?

A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art is a two part project by Catherine J. H. Miller.  The first part of this project is the creation of a exhibition “A Somewhat Secret Place” to include 28 works of art, literature and performance from artists and writers with and without disabilities. Recently the Oregon Women’s Caucus for Art, (OWCA) a 501c3 corporation, has taken on the exhibition as a project of the OWCA.  The exhibition will take place at PRESENTspace 939 NW Glisan in the Portland Pearl District. This show will open July 7th and close July 30th 2010. There will be an estimated eight events to include an opening, artists talks each week, V.I.P. events and a closing.  To learn more about the OWCA please visit us at http://www.oregonwca.org.

The second part of A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art project is a book documenting Ms. Miller’s curation,  her collaboration with the OWCA and the community at large. The book will offer her theories on the intersection of contemporary arts and disability and offer definitions and names for four areas of artistic practice in which disability is present. Miller’s planned inclusive book and exhibition project will create an international conversation that will show that artists and writers with disabilities are capable of, expanding what is considered fine art and the common understanding of art history. Ms. Miller says “perhaps this project will even shake previously held ideas of what disability art and disability pride art means.” The book will feature works featured in the above mentioned exhibition, and will be produced and published in 2012 under a partnership with Memwar Publishing in Canada. Please learn more about our publisher at http://www.memewaronline.com/about.html

This project started in May 2010 as an individual art project of Catherine J. H. Miller, and co-creator Lisa Grgas, as a sort of concept, or rather a wishful question: “Would it not be useful to have a more holistic look at inclusion in all areas of artist practice?” What grew from that small question is many people coming together for possibly the first time. Today, the OWCA stands proudly as the primary collaborator and supporter. Additionally, since the beginning of this project many organizations (such as Oregon Office on Disability and Health at OHSU) have partnered and sponsored this project along with local art community members such as Mark Woolley (who will be handling all sales of work in the exhibition). Currently the project has $10,000 in in-kind and cash contributions and in the next three months we expect to match this figure. Please go to our donors list to learn more about our supporters.

The project title comes from the thought that disability and impairment is not talked about in the arts in all the places where it is clearly apparent. It is that location that is “the not so secret place” for Ms. Miller. The title is a sort of tip-of-the-hat to Dubuffet’s “Art Brut De Foyer” where the use of the word Foyer was an attempt to incite the ideas of an inviting place to gather.

“My book and the exhibition are not the product/art object of my project. The product or ‘art’ is something less tangible and more powerful.  The ‘art’ is the conversation that the visitors and readers will have in the gallery space and beyond.  It is the interaction between the arts communities, the disability communities and the wider community around words like ‘disability art,’ ‘disability pride art’ and un-named areas of artistic practice.”

-Catherine J. H. Miller,

Artistic and Project Director/Fine art Curator
OWCA Subcommittee Chair: A Somewhat Secret Place Exhibition

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