WE ARE A Disability-Led Exhibition

Rebecca Varidel
13th Sep 2023
BLACKTOWN ARTS PRESENTS 'WE ARE' A DISABILITY-LED EXHIBITION REDEFINING THE POSSIBLE. We Are Studios and Blacktown Arts, presents WE ARE, an exhibition celebrating the talents of western Sydney artists with disability at The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre, running from 20 September to 28 October 2023. We Are Studios is a fully disability-led, inclusive studio that was established by a community of artists with disability that believe disability inclusion can and should start with us. WE ARE celebrates the creative practices of 13 western Sydney artists with disability, who worked together onsite in a 10 week creative takeover of Blacktown Arts. The exhibition shares the diverse stories, experiences and connections shared within the We Are Studios artist community, through an accessible multi-sensory and interactive exhibition. Guided by Creative Director Liam Benson and facilitator Linda Brescia. The artists designed and generated artwork by sharing creative practice and engaging in experimental workshops that expanded on the theme We Are... WE ARE invites people of all abilities to visit The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre and experience the multi-sensory exhibition and participate in guided workshops facilitated by We Are Studios artists to contribute to participatory community installations and artworks. Ebony Wightman, Treasurer of We Are Studios and featured artist in WE ARE said, “Art is powerful, it’s a catalyst for change. Each day people with disability are evaluated, labelled, and put into a box, we’re told the things we can achieve, and frequently, the things we can’t. “But it’s time for us to write our own stories, to bend the rules and push the boundaries. We’re more than just an arts studio - this community has saved my life and has given me purpose. I simply wouldn’t be here without them and I’m not the only one to say that.” Liam Benson, Creative Director of We Are Studios and Curator of WE ARE, said, “WE ARE is a creative exploration of what it means to be a disability-led artist collective and how radical and rewarding full creative control can be.” “I see my role as supporting and enabling artist-driven practice and decisions. My motto is ‘Yes, and’. We supported artists with high needs to make their own large-scale works for the first time - including a large spray-painting work with complex safety and logistics requirements. Artists also explored new art forms and engaged new materials to communicate the interaction with, and articulation of, disabled bodies.” The WE ARE exhibition runs from 20 September to 28 October 2023 at The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre. WE ARE is presented by Blacktown Arts and supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW and Blacktown City Council. Blacktown Arts is a division of Blacktown City Council. Curated by We Are Studios Creative Director Liam Benson and facilitated by Linda Brescia. Featured Artists: Ebony Wightman, Emmanuel Asante, Grazia Napoletano, Jane Thatcher, Joseph Barale, Kiri Smith, Maria Macabenta, Miah Tito-Barratt, Rebecca Sciroli, Robyn Kemp, Taylah Devlin, Tim Martin, Virginia Bucknell. blacktownarts.com.au/we-are-2023/