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.