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DisArt Festival: Influencing Perceptions about Disability through Art

"Art is everyBODY"Opening this Friday, April 10, the inaugural DisArt Festival will enliven Grand Rapids (Michigan) with art exhibitions, a fashion show, a film festival, theatrical and dance performances and many more opportunities to celebrate diversity and break down prejudice.  Much like inclusive education, these activities will challenge our presuppositions and help us look more closely at our lives.  Even more radically, Disability Arts can influence cultural change and connect people to each other in new ways.  The entire festival will run April 10 through April 25.

While there are many events to explore during the two week festival, here are a few events that you and your family may enjoy:

Family Activity Days: Friday, April 11, April 18 and April 25

On the three Saturdays of DisArt (April 11, 18, & 25 from 1:00-4:00 p.m.), the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art will provide a hands-on art-making activity in which each family member will have an important role to play.  Using colorful paper, straws, and pipe cleaners, families will work together to create their own hanging sculpture.  The sculpture will be complete only when all components are together, underscoring the importance of each person’s contributions.

Fashion Show: Friday, April 17

Enjoy a fantastic night of disability fashion on Friday, April 17 from 7:00-8:00 p.m.  Models with disabilities will show off exquisite fashion designed specifically for the disabled body.  See the DisArt Fashion Runway Show at the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building, 17 Pearl St. NW in Grand Rapids, MI.

DisArt Family Fest: Sunday, April 19

The Wave Room at Celebration Theater North will feature the DisArt Family Fest on Sunday, April 19 from 3:00-5:00 p.m.   There will be interactive workshops, art activities, and performances followed by a free movie.

American with Disabilities Act Legacy Bus Tour: April 24-25

On April 24 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.)  and April 25(12-5 p.m.) you may visit the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Legacy Bus Tour at the DisArt Hub (50 Louis St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI).  Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the ADA, the bus has been touring the country with a one-of-a-kind exhibit that provides history, education and interactive experiences surrounding disability and civil  rights.

DisArt Performance: Saturday, April 25

DisArt’s Final Performance will be on Saturday, April 25 from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Wealthy Street Theatre (Grand Rapids, MI).  You will enjoy music, art, theatre, dance, song, and stories – not just our stories, but our DisStories.

You can learn more about the DisArt Festival and the Year of Arts + Access on the DisArt Festival website or the DisArt Facebook page.

Tom Hoeksema Sr.Tom Hoeksema, All Belong Board member and retired Calvin College professor, serves as Chair of the DisArt Experiential Education Committee.