Crip* | Artists Engage with Disability

Sep 7, 2024
- Apr 26, 2025
2nd Floor: The Bob & Lissa Shelley McDowell Gallery

Finnegan Shannon, Do you want us here or not?, 2018. Plywood and paint, 36 x 72 x 26 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Finnegan Shannon

This group exhibition features contemporary artists who engage with experiences and understandings of disability. They do so by thinking about the ways that one’s personal experience of disability always intersects with other aspects of their life. Some of the artists in the show identify as disabled and some do not, but each has a relationship to at least one identity that is not perceived as normal. Too often, such artists are expected to “perform” these identities by making images of themselves. While those images can help diversify the art world, they can also pigeonhole artists, flatten our interpretations of their work, and make the distinctions between “normal” and “not-normal” more rigid.   

To counter these tendencies, the artists in Crip* pay attention to concepts that exist beyond the reach of simplified categories, and they celebrate the rich and complex knowledge gained through lived experiences that are shaped by any number of overlapping personal factors—among them ability, disability, race, gender, sexuality, location, community, and economics. Collectively, their work encourages us to fracture and reassemble the ways in which we think about who we are.  

Crip* is curated by Liza Sylvestre and co-organized by Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois Chicago. Support provided by the Presidential Initiative: Expanding the Impact of the Arts and Humanities, and by the James and Beth Armsey Fund.