A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art is a two part project by Catherine J. H. Miller. The first part of this project was the creation of an exhibition “A Somewhat Secret Place” that included works of art, literature and performance from artists and writers with and without disabilities. The Oregon Women’s Caucus for Art, (OWCA) a 501c3 corporation, took on the exhibition as a project of the OWCA. The exhibition took place at PRESENTspace 939 NW Glisan in the Portland Pearl District. The show opened July 7th and closed July 30th 2011. The show featured eight events which included an opening, artists talks each week, V.I.P. events, and a closing night party. 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 is currently underway and sponsored by RACC. This part of the project will be a book documenting Ms. Miller’s curation, her collaboration with the OWCA and the community at large. Miller’s 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 showcased in the above-mentioned exhibition and will be produced and published through 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 artistic 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). 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. MillerArtistic and Project Director/Fine Art Curator OWCA Subcommittee Chair: A Somewhat Secret Place Exhibition