Performance Date & Location | Oppenstein Park

September 18, 5:30 p.m. at Oppenstein Brothers Memorial Park

Artist Statement

Disability activist, poet, and speaker Laura Hershey once said, “If you don’t see us, you won’t think about us.” This sentiment permeates my work as a physically disabled artist, as I understand the importance of authentic representation in shaping societal perception. My work addresses disability from multiple angles, whether I am contemplating its meaning, its impact on my personal relationships, or access issues. In addition, the act of creation is fully informed by my disability, as I use alternate guitar tunings to facilitate weakness in my hands and reclaim the aesthetic value of my fragility. Along the same vein, I must enter places that have been built without disabled individuals in mind in order to bring to attention the need for access. While anxiety-inducing, I’m pushed to open myself to a form of vulnerability that many non-disabled people do not experience in shared spaces. I propose to write and perform a half-hour of genre-fluid songs for acoustic guitar and voice, which center my experiences in Kansas City wherein I have struggled with physical access in gathering places. This set will explore the tension between a negative, burdensome view of disability and an accepting, accommodating perspective. While the songs direct focus to disability experience, I call for systems of community care for all people, regardless of identity or background.

The Convivencia of This Performance

As an artist, I have formed relationships with, learned from, and taught people of all backgrounds. Often, I enter communities as one of the only individuals with a visible disability and teach others about access issues. Many people have revealed to me the impact that my art has had on their view of disability and physical accessibility. My performance will shine light on the rich complexity of disability experience, and I hope to inspire our Kansas City community to consider how we can be more at ease sharing space with and creating access for people of all abilities. Seeking to balance harmony and conflict, my ultimate goal is to prompt listeners to evaluate their current views on community care and to leave with a deepened desire to explore difficult questions about accessibility.

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Instagram | @graciecaggiano