P is P photographs at The Chapel Hill Public Library

The ten documentary photographs taken during last year’s mobilizations are now on exhibit at the Chapel Hill Public Library now until January 27

So take a look when you pick up your books!

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Thoughts on Presence is Progress After Six Months

I’ve been thinking about a form of self-critique for the past few months as a way to articulate feelings I have about this project now.  This process of thinking back and thinking ahead includes different kinds of analysis: from the purely emotional to the highly critical.

In essence and most essentially, I’m in the middle of questioning my methods of production for Presence is Progress.  I have become suspect of the way in which I engaged community.  I am currently questioning my decision to involve myself with a community art project after moving back home to this community only four months prior.
Instead of building a project with the help and advice of an existing community of disabled, activist Crips, I phoned disability services at local college campuses,  posted open-calls in local papers, and described my project to every disability-related organization I could find.  On one hand, this open solicitation presented the opportunity to make something new from groups already formed.  On the other hand, it invited people to join an initiative without an anchor.  I believe that my project would have been much richer if it had been our project.  Whatever the institutional constraints, had I given the project more time to develop, and had I collaborated more closely with local activists, I think a number of things would have been done differently.

Had it been a team of us with different backgrounds and experiences, more consideration would have been given to how people traveled to and from each meeting site.  Greater critique and adjustment would have made each event more open and inviting to people of all races, classes, sexualities, and nationalities.  Greater support for people with diverse mental, emotional, and physical disabilities–invisible and visible–would have made the events more inclusive.

Though I remain committed to the political and artistic project of collective and self-representation for people with disabilities, I wonder if this public art initiative was the time and place to insist on it.  Privileging a final product in the form of photographs hampered the process of building relationships.  In order to capture any emotional spark, the photographs had to focus on relationships existing prior to the mobilization events rather than relationships newly formed; fortunately, photographs of families are both important and beautiful.   But the whole project–no matter how beautiful or how unwieldy it was–had its eye set on a finalized art object, the photograph, with the goal of artfully and artificially filling in images missing from our public consciousness.  Any of the photographs that inspired me to pursue this project: the photographs of ACT UP activists protesting the US government’s denial of the AIDS epidemic or black youth holding signs that insist the US government honor and protect their human and civil rights, show people uniting for a cause, a cause other than a public art project.

And so, with great appreciation for all who helped make Presence is Progress what it is, and with a nod to possible futures, I vow that:
The community art projects in my future will involve communities I am a part of.  These community art projects will be collaborative and self-reflexive affairs.  They will be long-term, with many tentacles and off-shoots.  They will be unrushed and they will develop organically.   They will learn from their mistakes and they will try yet again.  They will allow their expectations to be challenged.  They will not anticipate their limits.  They will grow.

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P is P at Guilford College!

From November 2 until December winter recess Presence is Progress is up for viewing in Guilford College’s Boren Lounge.  Hosted in collaboration with the College’s Center for Principled Problem Solving, this exhibition also features tactile artwork entitled Sight Unseen by Rich Curtis.

Dr. Ann Fox, Associate professor of English and Gender Studies Concentration coordinator at Davidson College, spoke at the event’s opening Tuesday November 2nd.

Community newspaper publications are available for taking.

Special thanks to Kim Yarbary, Project and Communication Manager at the Center for Principled Problem Solving, Art Gallery Curator Pro-Tem Kelsey McMillan, and, of course, Dr. Fox!

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Press for Presence is Progress at Through This Lens

Local critic and artist Dave Delcambre wrote a nice summary of the exhibit. Check it out on his blog nc artblog!

Also, Durham’s Herald Sun has a nice piece in Friday August 6th’s issue, page 3D

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Happy Birthday, Americans with Disabilities Act

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Exhibition Reception

Please join us SATURDAY JULY 24th from 6 – 8 pm at Through This Lens Gallery for the opening reception of photographs from Presence is Progress.

Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC, will speak at 7 pm.  A sign language interpreter will be in attendance.

This reception also commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, which was signed into law July 26th, 1990.

Refreshments provided.

303 E. Chapel Hill Street . Durham, NC 27701 . 919.687.0250


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Bolin Creek in Carrboro, NC

Carrboro resident Dave Otto has begun a campaign to make the walking paths around Bolin Creek as accessible and inclusive as possible.

There’s a googlegroup, an on-going petition, and weekly meetings in Carrboro.  Please check out Advocates for Carrboro Greenways for more information and to sign the petition!

The next meeting is May 24th.

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