June 17, 2011

The artists, writers and performers of A Somewhat Secret Place

Who is to be represented at the exhibition?

Since this project began, this has been the question on everyone’s minds. Now we know!

Last night we held a fundraising event at my home and we announced those accepted to be in the show.

We are blessed to have the art of:  Andrea O. Rosselle, Carmen Papalia and A.J. Iving, David Kidd, Erik Ferguson, Evan Shefleck, Gavin Eveland, Gwenn Seemel, Heather Zinger, John Kelting,  Joy Corcoran, Molly Garmire and Pat Krishnamurthy.

During the nights of the 9th and the 30th we will enjoy the writing of: Arwen Bird, Carmen Papalia, Charles King, Howard Edelman,  Jody J. Ramey, Emilia Murry Ramey and Nathan Say. Writers will only read once, so please do keep up on the developments here and on our twitter and FB for the dates and titles of readings.

From 6-9 pm on the 9th, guests will enjoy a performance by Carmen Papalia and A.J. Iving and a dance performance by Yulia Arakelyan titled “My Birth Place: Part 1.” Yulia does not typically perform in art spaces so this is a unique setting for her dance.

During the night of the 30th Elie Charpentier will not only perform the work accepted into the show, but she will play a full set. We hope that you will stop in for the music and stay for the art and conversation.

June 4, 2011

Cool Event!

Hi Friends,

I want to tell you a little bit about The Portland Blind Cafe™ where I periodically work as a blind host in the dark.

The Portland Blind Cafe is “An Award Winning Community Awareness Concert & Dinner In The Pitch Dark!” But it is much more. It is blind and sighted staff and volunteers getting together to make a community building dinner. I have worked as a server and host for the past two Portland Blind Cafe dinners.
This is the third Portland Blind Cafe, and I have to say is the best. The past two nights have been very fun. During the past two nights, I have danced with our cook,  a volunteer, another blind host Jim Jackson and the president of the OWCA. In between dances, I have enjoyed guiding people in the dark, teaching them how to eat and learning about my fellow servers’ blind experiences.
The creator of the event, Rosh, is a big supporter of this project and he himself even pledged in the name of the Blind Cafe. Also, The Portland Blind Cafe is letting us (the OWCA) collect donations for A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art.

The event travels from city to city. They will be back in October for the fourth Portland Blind Cafe!!!!!!!!

Please see info below,


Last day!!! June 4th 2011
@ Tabor Space/Mt Tabor Presbyterian Church
5441 Belmont Ave.
In beautiful South East Portland, Oregon
6:30PM Check In / 7PM Seating

“What a wonderful event – we had a lovely evening last night at The Portland Blind Cafe. You and your team did an excellent job, food was delicious, music touched the heart, and the sense of community created in such a small space of time was remarkable. Thank you!”

– Moira | Portland Blind Cafe Guest (from last night June 2nd)

Come Dine & Experience A Concert In The Pitch Dark!

The Portland Blind Cafe is a mind bending/heart opening experience where the audience will dine, particpate in a Q & A with their blind wait staff and enjoy a concert of orginal music by Rosh & One Eye Glass Broken…all in the pitch dark!
A delicious vegatarian meal will be prepared with love to delight your senses by Portland’s own Chef Ivy Entrekin and our lovely volunteers.
Your heart and mind will be opened as you embrace the poetry of Rick Hammond, celebrate and explore spacial awareness & darkness with Gerry Leary, while indulging in ‘unencumbered music listening’ without the distraction of visual conditioning, social etiquette & your cell phones!
This is NOT just a another dinner in the dark…it’s a community experience where people connect, learn and grow from working together to participate in something greater than themselves. The Portland Blind Cafe is designed to help you feel more alive, awake, present and connected to your world.”

May 29, 2011

A Somewhat Secret Place’s Kickstarter New Backer Reward

Today we updated our Kickstarter with a new reward at the $25 or more level. This means that if you are signed up to receive a reward at a pledging level higher then this you now are going to get this backer reward too!

Pledge $25 or more

All the above and an invitation (w/+1) to a panel discussion celebrating the 21st anniversary of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) on Tuesday, July 26. See our FB for more info.


To pledge go to


We do hope to see you there.

May 17, 2011

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

May 11, 2011

A Somewhat Secret Place Exhibition

We have found the location for our show. We are happy to announce that our show will be open July 7th through the 30th at PRESENTspace located 939 NW Glisan, Portland, Oregon, 97209 (enter on 10th Avenue). Our hours will be Monday-Saturday 11 am-5 pm, excluding the event days listed below.

July 6th Pre-Opening

Our Pre-Opening Party is a V.I.P. event with invitations available only through Kickstarter for pledges of $50 or more. Invitations are for two guests and can be gifted. To get your invitation today, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/495948280/a-somewhat-secret-place-disability-and-art/messages/new?message[to]=1356445924

July 7th First Thursday

Please come at 6:00 pm for a talk with Carmen Papalia in Northwest Portland. First Thursday is when all the galleries officially open their doors with newly hung work and the Portland Pearl District turns into one big gallery walk!

July 9th Grand Opening

Our grand opening is a two-part event. At noon we will host a writing workshop facilitated by Write Around Portland. This event is free and there is no need to be a seasoned writer. We hope to have about 80 people in attendance.

In the evening at 6:30pm we will host author readings and performances. This is a free event with complimentary refreshments

July 26th ADA 21st Birthday Party and Panel Discussion

This event is completely devoted to the lived experiences of people with disabilities and the Americans with Disability Act. ADA is turning 21, so there will be cake and drinks. There will be a fun group drawing and writing activity where guests will be encouraged to leave their mark in pen or Braille. Just for fun and art we will have a Helen Keller piñata crafted by Catherine J. H. Miller.

Currently, we are looking for volunteer facilitators and panelists. So far the activist Brian Crosby Paynn has volunteered. This means only 5 seats to be filled.

July 30th Gallery Closing

tba [12-2 pm]

In the evening at 7:00 pm we will host author readings and performances. This is a free event with complimentary refreshments.

9:00 pm: After-Party will be held to encourage art enthusiasts, critics, collectors, intellectuals, publishers and scholars to mingle with the artists and organizers. The after closing party will be open to the public with snacks, nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages.

May 2, 2011


This little bit of mail just warmed my heart and I felt compelled to share it. I received this letter this weekend from a Marion Sue Fisher. Fisher is a life long poet and lover of the arts. She and I met by chance when she stopped into my church. Fisher does not use Amazon, so enclosed with this letter was a check made to A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art. My sincerest thanks to Fisher and to all the lovely people that have pledged during these past 41 days. If you would rather send a check than contribute via our Kickstarter pledge drive, please send checks to:

Catherine J. H. Miller, A Somewhat Secret Place
1221 NW 11th ave #237
Portland, OR 97209

or go to our Kickstarter  at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/495948280/a-somewhat-secret-place-disability-and-art

April 19, 2011

People Are Takling + More Incentives To Pledge

Ms. Ross, Print maker

 Today one of my fellow artist, an alumnus of PNCA posted the below blog. Please go to  http://rainboeliza.blogspot.com/

If you go to her site and read more you will find a special incentive to pledge your support.

By Rainbow Ross

April, 19 2011

A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art

Every once in a while a project comes along that I believe is worth supporting.  A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art, directed by Catherine Miller, is most certainly one of those and I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to it.
I met Catherine several years ago while we were both students at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.  I remember sitting on the couches in the student lounge complaining about the difficulties of art school.  I don’t recall much what I was griping about, but I do keenly remember the utter frustration that Catherine was feeling as a visually impaired artist.  Although, I didn’t fully understand her disability, I did understand that she was unable, at times, to receive the same education as I simply because instructors failed to utilize the special markers she bought for them to use in order for her to see.  Perhaps it seemed like such a simple thing, but for her – it was not so very.  Along with her frustration, even then, I felt a passion from her that so few emit, and when I heard she had started this quest; I knew with certainty that it would come to completion.
Catherine at work
So what is this project?  It began as a desire to write a book.  A book that would help define, validate, and give way for contemporary art to more readily include artist with disabilities.  However, it has grown to an exhibition, workshops, panel discussions, a chance for the disabled to have a more active role in the contemporary art scene, and well, so much more, which you can find if you check out the links below.
The break down is this.  Miller has done an enormous amount of leg work thus far including fundraising, research, writing, community outreach, and of course, making art all the while.  However, in order to pull off the feat, she needs more support.
Having a brother who was visually impaired, but also a photographer and woodworker, I would have loved for him to be given an opportunity to view art in a forum that was assembled in a way that he could enjoy, and not be an after thought.  A venue that celebrated his differences.  A moment that gave him pride and honor in the work that he produced.
In short: Every kind gesture counts. […] read more
April 6, 2011

Tom Manley President of PNCA Supports an Inclusive Art Show in Portland, OR

Dear Reader,

I am a class of 2008 alumnus of the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). I am also the first Blind/visually impaired BFA graduate.  My BFA is therefor a personal milestone and one for PNCA. I write this blog today to say thank you to Mr. Manley,  PNCA President, for his past and current support of my work, as well as to share his most recent kindness.

Tom Manley has honored me today by giving to my Kickstarter pledge drive for my project, A Somewhat Secret Place Disability an Art. We are now at $1,206.00 currently pledged toward the $10,000.00 goal. Please visit my Kickstarter and support my project by commenting and/or pledging! It is all or nothing funding. Therefore what is needed from supporters is to do the following: give our Kickstarter visits, like my Kickstarter page on Facebook, comment on my Kickstarter site and pledging support. If we do not reach our $10,000.00 goal in about 74 days we will not be able to receive any of the pledged money.


Best wishes,

Catherine J. H. Miller

April 3, 2011

Support This Project

Overflow Cafe, April 8
Graph showing Kickstarter plegdges as of 4/8/2011.

We are $8, 729 away form our goal of $10,000.00!!!

If we do not reach it in 72 days we will not get any of the money.

Backers will only be charged if we reach our goal.

So please pledge your support today by clicking on this link



March 30, 2011

Art Director’s Statement “Blindly Painting” Photos for Kickstarter Pledge Drive PR Materials

In the genre of disability pride art there is often a reclaiming of sexuality, or more properly speaking sexual power, as a reaction to desexualization of people with disabilities.  Here we see a young woman holding and using a blind person’s cane. That is, I am holding and using my own cane, while cheekily posing in my undergarments. Unembarrassed and improvised is a proper description for the tool that I hold in my hands. As proudly as I hold my body, I hold my tool. That is, I hold my cane with a paint-roller duck taped shoddily to the handle of my cane.

These images were shot for use in a design campaign for “A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art,” a socially engaged exhibition and s book about artists and writers with and without disabilities, their artistic practices, their work and where the intersection with the subject of disability is present in their artistic practices and works

I feel there is much in these photos and sketches that is sincere.  Certainly in the title, “Blindly Painting.”   While it shows my sense of humor,  in this piece I mean to be quite serious. Today in the art world almost all people with disabilities in the role of artist or writer or patron are excluded and we have had to either force our way in or have a sort of  “make do” with what we are given attitude and improvise with what we have and who we are. This subjective experience may be confusing to some but I hope that seeing a faceless woman priming a wall using her cane as the poll for her paint roller might clue viewers in on what my experience has been. My legal blindness is not the problem. In fact, successfully, my blindness informs my practice, because it is a part of my life. My blindness is not something that lives outside of me but at the same time it is not the “everything” that is me.

Concept sketch for “Blindly Painting” photo shoot.

A fully sighted person with a sighted model could have easily made this image, and then maybe the implied gag would have been the focus. In this hypothetical I do still believe that the image would still function in the same way.

An additional problem that I do not attend to in these photos is the great number of unexamined works by non-disabled people having to do with disability, which includes: art created using cultural artifacts of disability, art seeking to represent a disability or person with a disability and radically political work about disability. Today there is not yet a language in the art world that’s firmly in place to talk about such work. To me this is as disturbing as the gross ignoring and exclusion of people with disabilities. I would say it was not my intention to exclude this topic, as it is an intertwined part of the event for which these images were created to promote. It simply was a matter of triggering a clean connection between the ideas of an art show and the subject of disability.

Most of the art world would have a hard time understanding an image that would encapsulate all the points I have raised here in my statement, for such issues are not often examined. I would like to know what such a hypothetical image would look like. Someday, if the work I have done is successful, I believe that such an image will exist and that it will be easily understood by the masses.

Catherine J. H. Miller

Photography by Kenneth Barton