The Reach Hosts a Timely Discussion Around Issues of Accessibility, Disability, and the Arts

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Abbotsford, BC – Today an estimated one in five Canadians live with a disability that limits them in their daily activities, presenting challenges or obstacles to their full participation in society. In recent years the Canadian art world has seen the growth of a vibrant deaf and disability arts movement that draws attention to the unique challenges faced by disabled artists and audiences, as well as making space for their valuable contributions. Inspired by these developments, as well as by the life and work of current exhibiting artist Mohsen Khalili, The Reach Gallery Museum is hosting a free Panel Discussion about Issues of Accessibility & Disability in the Arts on Saturday April 27, 2019 at 3pm, at 32388 Veterans Way.


As we face a future with a rapidly aging population, coupled with increasing awareness of disability types that are less visible – such as mental-health related and cognitive disabilities – more and more people are realizing what the disabled community has known for years: that we are all only temporarily abled, and most of us will live with disability at some point in our lives. Artists Mohsen Khalili and Carmen Papalia will discuss their own experiences navigating the art world as disabled artists in a moderated discussion led by Yuri Arajs, Artistic Director of Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture. Their conversation will be followed by a Q&A from the audience.

Mohsen Khalili is an artist originally from Iran who has been living and working in Canada since the mid-1990s. His artistic career has been deeply affected by a number of medical conditions that attack his organs, skin, and bones. As he continued to work with physical tools that are increasingly failing, Khalili has embraced an aesthetics of imperfection – by “making undone,” he uses his work to reflect on the universal nature of entropy, and to remind us that to have a body inherently means learning to live with failure. His current retrospective, Remote Gardening with Dysfunctioned Tools, is on display at The Reach until May 5, 2019.

Carmen Papalia is a Vancouver-based artist and advocate who uses organizing strategies and improvisation to address his access to public space, the art institution, and visual culture. His socially engaged practice is an effort to unlearn visual primacy and resist support options that promote ablest concepts of normalcy. Papalia’s walks, workshops, and interventions are an opportunity to model new standards and practices in the area of accessibility.

Yuri Arajs joined the staff of Kickstart as Artistic Director in October 2015. Having founded numerous art non-profit organizations and galleries, he has worked with and shown the artwork of hundreds of artists who live with disabilities, from the USA, Canada, and internationally, for more than two decades.

For the free Panel Discussion about Issues of Accessibility & Disability in the Arts and light refreshments on Saturday April 27, 2019 at 3pm, and other events at The Reach go to www.thereach.ca or call:604-864-8087.

This event is accompanied by ASL interpretation, and The Reach is grateful for the support of the Hamber Foundation for this project.

Media contact for Panel Discussion:
Adrienne Fast, Curator of Art and Visual Culture, The Reach
Email: afast@thereach.ca
T: 604-864-8087 x113

Image attached with credit: Mohsen Khalili, from the series Dysfunctioned Body Parts series, 2003–2018, digital photograph, dimensions variable.