Confronting society’s conceptions of disabilities in the arts and media

You are a woman and an artist dedicated to empowering girls through social media. This is how you see yourself. But if you have a disability, it is often only through that one lens that the world may see you.That’s how Kate Fialkowski, director of academic programs for the College of Education’s Institute on Disabilities, described how many individuals in the disability community do not feel that their disability defines them. Now more than ever, that community is taking to new media, like blogs being picked up by The Huffington Post, and social media to self-represent and have their voices heard.To explore how identity and disability play out in the arts and media, this year’s annual Disability and Change Symposium will take a look at how self-representation differs from conventional representation.Several Temple faculty, alumni and students, as well as other experts in various fields, will serve on panels to discuss and explore visual and tactile arts, performance art, comic books and graphic novels, and social and new media.“As a general statement, in art you portray something— in a picture, on stage or in film. Conventional representation is usually based on stereotypes or these preconceived ideas that you have about things,” Fialkowski said. “People with disabilities, they are not often a part the equation—how they’re portrayed is based off of what other people think or have been taught about people with disabilities. This symposium topic is about how are people representing themselves by being the creators and what it’s like being the people who are in the audience accessing the art and media.”This year’s symposium features artists with disabilities, organizations interested in cultural equity and scholars in conversation together.The diversity of the symposium stretches beyond the panel and to the audience. The Institute on Disabilities and the Disability …

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