Art Demo and Reception: January 3, 2013, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
People with physical and mental disabilities have long been precluded from fully participating in many aspects of society, sadly sometimes because of purposeful discrimination. Eminent artists such as Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec triumphed over their physical impairments with unrivaled feats of creativity and dedication. The inclusion of the WHEELS UP exhibition in the programming of the Riverside Art Museum is another milestone towards the aspirational principle that all persons, regardless of their disabilities, should have equal opportunities to express their talents and to be successful in the arts.
WHEELS UP: The Wheelchair as Artistic Vehicle features work of various media by five artists associated with the Academy of Special Dreams organization. While each of these artists uses a wheelchair for mobility, their respective means of creating art illustrates the diversity within the special-needs community. Artists Jhovana Cecena, Tom Doyle, Todd Tostado, Martin Vogel, and Nikita Wang are each highlighted for their artistic merit and creation of innovative tools for expression. Both Vogel and Doyle utilize the front and/or rear wheels of their wheelchairs in the actual process of applying paint onto a surface, whereas Tostado's wheelchair serves as the physical link to a computer that ultimately captures the depictions of his imagination.
The mission of the Academy of Special Dreams is to increase public awareness, appreciation, and recognition of the creative talents of people with disabilities by providing opportunities that encourage, promote, and showcase their artistic expressions. While fulfilling its mission primarily through free web-based hosting of "virtual" art galleries for self-identified artists with disabilities, the Academy further believes that full participation of artists with disabilities in our society must include traditional art exhibitions at institutions such as the Riverside Art Museum where people of all abilities and walks of life may come together for a better understanding of the special-needs community. For more information, please visit: www.specialacademy.org/about.
WHEELS UP is guest-curated by Flavia S. Zuñiga-West, an independent curator and visual arts teacher in Los Angeles. Zuñiga-West is a passionate advocate of inclusivity and accessibility in museums and serves as Program Coordinator of the Diversity Committee for the American Alliance of Museums. She is an alumna of New York University’s Museum Studies Program and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
This exhibit is presented in collaboration with: