Frederik Meijer Gardens’ fall exhibition celebrates contemporary disability sculpture

Submitted by the West Michigan Tourist Association 

GRAND RAPIDS — Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park will be host to 16 contemporary sculptors in an exhibition jointly organized by DisArt, a Grand Rapids-based arts and cultural organization promoting the full participation of disabled people in and through the arts.

The exhibition is titled “Process and Presence: Contemporary Disability Sculpture.”

Through examples of three-dimensional practice, including sculpture, performance, installation and video art, this exhibition emphasizes the relationship between disability and the fundamental human experiences of change and embodiment. The exhibition offers audiences a survey of contemporary disability sculpture through artists whose work represents local, national and global perspectives on the experiences of living with disability.

Cornerstone to this exhibition is the sister-state relationship between the State of Michigan and the Shiga Prefecture in Japan, a region long celebrated for its commitment to artists with disabilities. The sculpture also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the sister-state relationship and expands globally in a collection of objects contextualized by both contemporary and legacy artists from Michigan, Europe, Australia and Japan, including works by the world-renowned Judith Scott.

“Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is honored to collaborate with DisArt in this landmark exhibition. Three years in the making, the curatorial team has sought to organize a broad-based and enlightening exhibition featuring artists from across the globe,” said Joseph Becherer, chief curator and vice president of collections and exhibitions.

Officially beginning the Friday prior to ArtPrize, “Process and Presence: Contemporary Disability Sculpture” will be on display as Meijer Gardens’ fall exhibition from Sept. 14, through Jan. 6, 2019. ArtPrize runs from Wednesday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018.

“This exhibition presents some of the finest examples of contemporary disability sculpture in a wide variety of media, from ceramics to video installations and traditional sculptural techniques to performative works. The depths and dimensions of this exhibition are both enlightening and rewarding,” Becherer said.

Visitors will be welcomed into the exhibition by several accessibility measures carefully designed by DisArt and Meijer Gardens to encourage the full participation of all visitors, including audio descriptions, altered installation practices and other digital resources.

“The exhibition is a collection of art objects that are both intriguing and relatable to the experienced art-lover and those new to the gallery setting. When displayed together, the work strengthens our understanding of disability as a cultural identity and successfully challenges commonly held negative assumptions about the disabled experience.” said Jill Vyn, co-director of DisArt.

This exhibition coincides with DisArt’s Process and Presence 2018 season of events which includes a fashion show (Sept. 22), an international conference (Oct. 27-28) and multiple educational opportunities and artist engagements, all at Meijer Gardens.

“The objects in this powerful collection speak to the global experience of disability, offering visitors new understanding of how creativity and identity are directly linked,” said DisArt Co-Director Christopher Smit.

Process and Presence: Contemporary Disability Sculpture will be free of charge during ArtPrize (Sept. 19, to Oct. 7). The exhibition areas will be open to the public during Meijer Gardens’ regular business hours, as well as during official ArtPrize hours (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays; and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays).

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