Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013: Gordon Peteran speaks.

Gordon Peteran saw an old cane out of the corner of his eye and felt a connection. If this sounds like a song you’ve heard before, you’re right. People have been restoring, reinterpreting and repurposing found objects for ever. For what purpose? Well, you may just wanna have fun. Or you just can’t afford the real thing- if you are a person with a disability, you have heard that one before.

And artists? “Sometimes artists follow a hunch into an unknown territory recklessly chasing an unjustifiable intuition.”

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Peteran knew that the cane he found and restored meant more to him than beauty or memory or mobility.

Petarans thoughts run along a philosophical line, connecting self awareness and societal pressures to the ‘designed ideal’, “each of us is probably overcoming a perceived inadequate . . that often requires some form of prosthetic.”

Struggling with your body or parts of your body can be a source of strength. Peteran explains, “sometimes we mistake disability as a disadvantage and the best thing to do is to work with your resistance, not against it.” He has a real life example: “my grandma capitalized on a perceived weakness – she taught at school with polio and wooden crutches.”

His grandmother’s example made Peteran realize that sometimes trying to help gets in the way of people moving along with their life. His grandmother didn’t need fixing, she did not have a ‘wrong body’, what she needed was to teach children.

His motto? Don’t try to fix people. And make a u-turn: consider the disruption of the assumed condition.

Look at it this way, Peteran says, “everyone’s redeeming quality comes from their weakest point.” Being disabled helped his grandmother be a better teacher, a better person, made her someone who had unique and valuable insights on living, on adversity, on the built environment. Insights that the kids she taught would not have been able to profit from had she not been their teacher.Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 11.33.17 AM

In response to what he will do with the cane now Peteran says it will end up being his cane, “it has a bolt right on the curve of the handle that presses in the palm of my hand, and I like that.”

A restored cane that brings its owner pleasure. No fixing or nothing. It’s a good feeling.

— Thanks to Sarah Crosskey for the quotations. Any misinterpretation of the artist’s intention is the responsibility of Freddie Arps.


Colin Clark: constructing an experience.

“Is art a message packed up in a medium and then something we receive?” Colin Clark is sure that this depiction of art is too simple by far. For one, no one has the same feelings or the same thoughts when they look at an artwork. And when you try to tell someone else what you experienced, they may hear or visualize something totally different. photoworkshopFriday

The idea of translation of art may therefor be ‘a hopeless thing’ as Clark points out, but an active, participatory experience has great independent worth because it creates new artworks through the simple act of doing, of acting, of experiencing. No, we may not all have the same experience. Listening to classical music may be different for someone hard of hearing or deaf.

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Yet, we can all simply love the experience we do have; one we partly create ourselves.

Charles: “Even when you can’t hear or see, there is nothing redundant, nothing missing: a piece can be expressed by audio, video, vibration- you’re not always getting the information from one source.”

The participants in the workshop receive cards with which to make a musical composition. It is a layered experience. Making music isn’t necessarily making sound. Inaction counts as an action of some sorts. photo 4Anything, really, counts as music in this circle. You can scratch your nose, you can do a duet. You can breathe and walk around.

The cards tell the musicians to breathe three times, make their action, breathe three times, make their second action, breathe three times and so on.

Clarke tells them to read it softly, sing it, say it aloud, chant, move around… People pick up a variety of hand held instruments.

Someone asks what do we do when we can’t move most of our body?
Clark is ready for this too and Cathy explains that anyone can dance with their mind, dance with their eyes, dance with someone who *can* move and direct them. Everyone is included in the performance.

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For the last piece people are asked to pick a partner, in their mind, and act every time their partner acts. The following piece leads to much hilarity as two people have picked each other and repeat their sounds in an ever quickening pace of laughing sounds and rattling little bells. When Spencer acts, it is to drag the chair away from Mohsen as he continues drumming, and they go back and forth accompanied by hysterical laughter that stops as the musician starts to get tired.

There is no stated end to the performance, and the room slowly goes quiet as some people stop, resulting in others to lose their partners and coming to a stop themselves.
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It’s truly a performance where musicians themselves, each on their own and together with their partner, construct a lively, beautiful, surprising piece of music. It’s a fun experience and a good end to a long week.

Gord Waller, Interstices – The Disability Gaze

Gordon Waller

­Interstices – The Disability Gaze

“Barely visible pairs of eyes cast their gaze inward, duping the viewer, causing a realization at a point of temporal recognition.

Gordon Waller’s mural of reflections affixed to the windows at the Open Gallery, serves as a metaphor for awareness and empathy. It is intended to create the feeling of being stared at as the other, making us uneasy.  Waller’s intervention casts the disability gaze, back onto the viewer, creating displacement. The viewer questions what they see and experiences a sense of loss of reality, through a sensory and perceptual experience. Sound art of whispering indexing people, is an accessible accompaniment to the visual installation, enhancing the sensory experience.

Disability is socially reflective in the built environment, technology and transportation. However, the true underlying barrier is attitude and perception, and in this installation we are subject to scrutiny and rendered invisible through presence and absence.”

Workshop ‘Disruption’ by Sarah Crosskey.

Workshop by Sarah Crosskey: “Self Awareness Through Disruption: Questioning, Unraveling and Reframing”

Description: How can your vulnerability open the door to questioning society’s assumptions and values?


This interactive performance unravels these notions and offers a new perspective. Participate in the following exploratory group activity to reexamine society’s assumptions.
Sarah Crosskey has a background in sculpture, performance and installation. She is currently a graduate student in the Inclusive Design program at OCAD University

Gordon Peteran, Repaired Prosthetic Sculpture.

Gordo Peteran says, “I think that we can sometimes mistake disability for disadvantage.

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 11.33.09 AMMy grandmother was a “victim” of polio as a young girl. Much later in life she met my grandfather, working in the orthopedic department of the Hospital for Sick Kids.

He developed a clever shoe and brace combination that allowed her to walk with only a slight reliance on a cane.

That combination of prosthetics is what my submission for Disrupting/Undoing addresses.

Leaving her cane behind one day at our family cottage, my father carried his mother down to the beach and gently set her upon a blanket beside my mother, sisters and I under a huge umbrella. She was a tiny but formidable lady. I watched as she unbuckled and removed her shoes and leg brace placing it beside her in the warm summer sand. At that moment, from my perspective, all of her power evaporated into the heat, leaving her curiously vulnerable.

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To a child, her leg looked strangely normal, and therefore weak. With her cane gone, she was unable to point and direct with it as she had so often done. She appeared truly disabled, unable to conduct the authoritative narrative that normally empowered her at every family event.

It was that afternoon that I witnessed the power of a reinforced impediment , and have since learned to look for it in each of us. While it may not always be visible, I suspect each of us is overcoming a perceived inadequacy . . .that results in a strength. 

Recently I found the remains of a cane and began to fortify it as best I could focusing on the weakest points.

I would like to welcome visitors to handle this object in order to understand its makeup and configuration.

Repaired Prosthetic begins with a found object. The sculpture is comprised of the fragile and weathered remains of a classic wooden cane. Its form consists of a straight vertical section that was steam bent at one time, into a hook to receive one’s hand. It appears to have been made out of a tree branch, as there is evidence of small knots throughout. Only a small amount of a broken handle remained and the shaft was split and quite weak. I re-enforced the curved handle with a matching piece of curved brass.

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However, this was not enough and transferred pressure toward another weak spot further along the cane. I then applied a curved piece of steel onto the curved brass, previously attached to the original handle and continued this steel support further down the shaft. Still feeling that it’s length was too fragile to bear my own weight I decided to attach a piece of aluminum “L” channel over most of the length of the straight shaft tying it on with many layers of wrapped string at the cracked section near the base and running a bolt to hold it together through at the knot farther up. It was not until I had restored its functional ability did I notice the resulting aesthetic.”

Elaine Stewart, Wunderkamer.



The wheelchair is a visual statement of disability to most people.

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It creates a readily accessible medical model of disability for observers. For myself, the user of the device, it provides a functional solution to a problem, it lets me be mobile.

I began creating images of wheelchairs a few years ago.

One way I used it was as a foundation for building small assemblages.  I could bend and shape the realities of these imaginary objects in ways that I can not do with my mobility device.  It opens a door to possibility. It allows me a voice.

In this intimate Wunderkammer  the wheelchair becomes my subject of exploration. Here in the curiosity cabinet  are several small rooms, each has different wheelchairs, each is a small theatre. Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 11.28.04 AM

It is not the inaccessible world of unending hours invested in planning for mobility, of continuous mechanical failures, of the desexing of the rider, of the wet blanket of the perception of disability that shrouds us and begs to be ripped off.

Spirit Synott, These Aren’t Simply Portraits (projected photographs).

Artist. Actor. Dancer. A person with a disability. I have been all of these things.
I am more. 
Currantly working on my 2nd year of Masters in Design in Inclusive Design at OCAD U. I have been a practicing visual artist most of my life. My focus for the last number of years has been on dance rather than drawing and painting however that by no means, means I stopped the former.
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I think in describing visually how fragmented, invisible, I feel at times. Frustrations are discounted. I hope to use mirroring, metaphoric up against a brick wall, reflections of societal denial. Snow can be a barrier for many but no one wants dis images to be to prominent “pro =nounced.”
If we really are more alike than we are different then why do so many of us feel so alone? I deal with a different kind of racism in that I’m not seen as human. I swear sometimes people think I am contagious. I think they are not conscious of thinking that way or this way but they do. I see it in their gaze. 

I want to show Artists are multi faceted. People with Disabilities are multifaceted.
I have studied fine art, experimental art, martial arts, music, fashion, acting all before dance became my focus. 

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I grew up drawing, painting, writing songs, singing, speaking out about things I think are important because I desperately needed to express myself.  Even though most of my life I have been stared at I have felt invisible. For this reason I use digital photography to enhance my visual arts expression and also to record experiences as a way to not disappear. I would like to create a number of works using multimedia. Drawing, painting, photos, journaling all show the many aspects of my life as an artist in many arenas. Is it brave to express and expose oneself? Perhaps. is it heroic to some? Perhaps. When I say well-crafted I mean it is accessible. Accessible to me means it invites you in and/or is a perspective you hadn’t thought of that might make a difference in how you see other situations in life: a modern day profile of “Not what you thought when you looked at me.”