Without Labels

JUNE 20. 2021 – AUGUST 20.2021

Vanessa Hernández Cruz, Murray Siple, A Laura Brody, David McCauley, Jack Page, Mariam Paré , Allen J. Lewis, Robbie Teasdale, Rose Adare, Emily Tironi, Ellen Mansfield, Seema Shah, Lisa Merida-Paytes, David Isakson

𝗜𝗞𝗢𝗨𝗜𝗜 𝗢𝗣𝗘𝗡 is an annual online group exhibition of artwork created by both disabled and non-disabled artists worldwide.  Artists who practice in a variety of mediums or discipline at various stages in their art career submitted work in response to a disability-centered theme. This year’s theme Without Labels explores the interwoven influence of labels in disability and culture.

Disability labeling has the potential to cause individuals to be singled out and even ridiculed. Labels can also define and artificially limit the way that an individual may think of themselves, and perhaps inadvertently push others to lower their expectations of an individual once they are labeled with a disability. While in retrospect, labeling perhaps helps groups of individuals who have disabilities in common form a group identity. Labeling may also provide access to proper accessibility and support. The goal of the open is to activate social movements, educate, inspire, and evoke change within the arts and disability communities.

A. Laura Brody
The Jazzy Peacock Scooter
2015. Jazzy power scooter and reused textiles. 48 x 36 x 60 inches.



Vanessa Hernández Cruz (she, her, hers) is an emerging Chicana disabled dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, poet & activist. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, she received her Associates Degree in Dance from Santa Monica College. She is currently a candidate for the B.A in Dance Science from California State University Long Beach. In 2020, her dance film “Nycto-Eternity” won The Dance Cinema Award from Frostbite International Film Festival and was recently screened for The Midnight Film Festival in New York. In 2018, She won first place in the Global Citizenship Research Symposium: Dance & Disability in Santa Monica College for her dance film “Grey City”.Vanessa’s choreographic work has received the award for Cultural Diplomacy for Innovation in Choreography from Ballet Beyond Borders in 2019. Her lifetime aspirations are to continue to perform, choreograph, create, and to continue to pave an easier path for future disabled artists through her activism.

Description of Work: DNA – Disability Not Ability. This is a experimental Dance film that encompasses poetry, dance and scenic artwork. This piece is a deeply personal work that dives deep into my journey as a disabled dancer and owning my disability identity. One of the greatest moments of my life was reclaiming disability as my identity, culture and honoring its history. DNA is comprised of three parts: Decoy, Glitch, and Roots. Each chapter draws elements from my dance training over the years which includes ballet, modern, & hip hop. My poem is broken up into those three chapters that displays my dreams, my mental health, and ultimately my strength in reclaiming disability as a part of who I am.


Murray Siple attended Emily Carr College of Art and Design in the early 1990s, majoring in experimental film and video. After college, he pioneered extreme sports filmmaking as a director, but after a bright start, a high-speed car accident left him a person with quadriplegia. In rehabilitation, drawing was his salvation and his pathway back into art. He wrote and directed “Carts of Darkness” (NFB) and has recently established himself as an accomplished painter. Murray’s work explores themes of fear and darkness, night terrors colliding with inner turmoil. As an artist with a disability, Murray thrives in environments that are not accessible, which are the basis of his creative process. Brief

Description of Work: Murray has often heard of the Gulf Islands “magic.” He admits that the islands are filled with incredible natural beauty, however, that splendour is juxtaposed and even dominated by the destructive power of human beings. He finds it shocking that the Gulf Islands are still logged, in 2021 and that the Crofton pulp mill, which holds the worst pollution and safety record in Canada, is still in operation. The farm animals disappear, fed creatively to visitors. More painfully observed is the number of Salt Spring Island locals with cancer. Murray still believes in the magic, but he is not going to let it blind him.


Laura Brody sculpts for the human body and its vehicles. She developed and curates Opulent Mobility, a series of exhibits that re-imagine disability as opulent and powerful. Her art has been shown at ACE/121 Gallery, Brea Gallery, the Charles River Museum of Industry, Westbeth Center For the Arts, California State University Northridge, Gallery Expo, the Dora Stern Gallery at Arts Unbound, and The World of Wearable Art. Ms. Brody works as a professional costume maker and designer, an artist, and as a teacher. She is passionate about reuse, sustainability, and re-imagining disability.

Brief Description of Work: My works draw from the history of art: the flowing shapes of Art Nouveau, the embellishments of the Victorians and the line quality of Klimt and Schiele. These sculptures are conceived with a commitment to social justice and are inspired by the spirit of scientific discovery. They are meant to encourage conversation and to inspire radical rethinking of the meanings of disability and adaptive aids.

David McCauley is a non profit director and creative entrepreneur based in St Petersburg, FL. After transitioning from a 10 year career working in Finance and Technology on Wall St, David refocused his skills to develop non-profit community based projects as well as his own art practice. Since 2012, he has founded multiple 501c3 organizations such as The Rise Up Gallery, The Little Haiti Laundromat Art Space, and The Wynwood Tour Guide App. Each of these entities have been awarded numerous accolades for their programs which encompass art therapy workshops in the community, studio/exhibition space for artists, and a smartphone based walking tour of the Wynwood Arts District in Miami.

Brief Description of Work: McCauley’s contemporary artwork incorporates graphic design, typography/language, and fabricated materials. As an artist living with paralysis, McCauley applies various adaptive mark making techniques in the creation of his work while exploring topics of inclusion, universal design, accessibility, and the physical state of the human body.

Jack Page is a multimedia visual artist and musician. He lives and works on the traditional, unceded, and currently colonized territory of the Coast Salish peoples, in particular the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwəta? (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. Page received a BFA in Critical and Cultural Practice from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2012. From 2012 to 2015, he pursued a MA in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory from McMaster University. Unfortunately he had to leave my Grad Studies, on good standing, due to his arthritis worsening severely affecting my hands, lack of trans/gender medical care. He identifies as a trans-masculine, queer, physically disabled, chronically ill, and a mad psychiatric consumer. Jack’s embodiment and personal identification have greatly informed his academic and artistic research and political activism. His artistic practice focuses on conceptual art collaborative, and interactive practices, trauma, the body, identity politics, and nature and climate justice.

Brief Description of Work: RAZOR is a pencil crayon drawing of my hands holding a razor blad crumpled inside a white sink beneath a metal faucet. This artwork is a part of my larger series of pencil crayon and graphite hand drawings. I wanted to explore the emotive property of hands and how we communicate with them as humans.


Mariam Paré, is a Chicago based artist and mouth-painter known for her colorful portraits, and other multimedia works. As a female artist with a disability, Mariam developed her own adaptive techniques to express her own unique perspective and aesthetic. In addition to painting by mouth, she makes digital, video, and installation art, often touching on motifs based on the disability experience. Mariam is also a member of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, and 3Arts Fellowship awardee. Some of her major commissions include Craig H. Nielsen Foundation, Omorose Cosmetics, LifeWTR, Refinery29, and Pepsi company.

Allen J. Lewis is a native South Carolina. He has been inspired by many artists; but his first inspiration was his mother. With no formal art training, she would amuse Allen and his siblings by sketching their likenesses. He found her natural ability amazing. Watching his mother draw would influence him to begin copying and tracing artwork from the family’s illustrated bible as well as other sources. Allen’s talent was apparent early. He earned a reputation for being amongst the most talented artists in his community and was accepted into several art competitions winning many awards. He has studied at the University of Maryland University – College Asia, Northern Virginia Community College, The Art Institute of Atlanta, and Georgia State University. He continues to attend demonstrations and workshops with some of today’s most celebrated artists. Always looking for ways to improve, he is an avid reader of art instructional books.

Robbie Teasdale is a ceramic artist living with Bipolar Disorder. He spent the first 18 years of his life in East Africa and now resides in Kentucky. His non-functional work explores themes relating to his experience with mental illness and the suicide of his sister.

Emily Tironi was born and raised in Cambridge, NY, She was born with a muscle disease causing weakness and fatigue and the use of a wheelchair for long distances. She enjoyed all types of art since childhood and grew up entering her art in the Washington County Fair. After graduating high school in 2014, she attended SUNY Adirondack and pursued a degree in media arts. She graduated and transferred to CUNY School of Professional Studies in 2016 to pursue a degree in Disability Studies. While studying disability in cultural and societal aspects, she began to use her experiences as a person with a disability in her art.She combines layered paper images and bright colors to create complicated pieces with unique messages. In August 2020, Emily had her first solo exhibition at Southern Vermont Art Center in Manchester, Vt. Emily currently lives in Cambridge, NY and works on her collages daily.

Brief Description of Work: These works use words with multiple meanings and can have negative connotations regarding people with disabilities. The works are a play on words and about reclaiming words and labels for ourselves as people with disabilities.

Adare (they/them) is an evocative artist trained at the San Francisco Academy of Art University, and the Atelier School for Classical Realism. As a differently abled trans person with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and eighteen co-morbidities, inclusion is at the forefront of both their art and social advocacy. Since EDS is a connective tissue disorder, Adare’s bones and organs frequently move out of place. Since art is their primary passion in life, this has lead them to many innovative workarounds, from how to effectively set up their studio,to how to paint with a brush taped to their fingers. Adare currently runs a nonprofit in Hawai’i called Kipaipai Art Foundation, which provides art classes to adults, and differently abled children. They are also a passionate motivational speaker, collaborating with Abled Hawai’i Artists and Hawai’i Island Pride.

Brief Description of Work: Adare incorporates oil paint, metallic pigments, and gold leaf on either natural wood or Belgian linen. By building up thin translucent layers with vibrant colors and luminous highlights, Adare’s portraits often appear to breathe on canvas. Each painting takes over 100 hours to complete. As a finishing touch, Adare often infuses their varnish with unorthodox ingredients like hemp oil, whiskey, peyote, or blood, depending on the cultural lifestyle of their models. Storytelling plays a huge role in their art. By humanizing their models diverse life experiences, Adare’s exhibits are known for inspiring conversation, and expanding social awareness. “As the paint covers the gold leaf, it rips and tarnishes, yet it continues to shine through. In that same vein, I believe every model has their own illumination, and it’s my task to portray their inner glow through my paints.” –Adare


Born Deaf in Manhattan, NY, Ellen Mansfield survived many miserable years in school without sign language. Despite that, she earned a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Ellen has led a life filled with art and experiences, using her background in drawing, painting, batik, ceramics, and many other media. When she moved to Maryland, she began to recognize just how much her Deaf identity had always been part of her artwork. Life began to blossom as she became surrounded by Deaf culture and sign language, leading to increasingly colorful images in her work, including watercolors, oil paintings and tile paintings in her artwork. She owns Ellen’s TileStroke Studio in Frederick, MD.

Brief Description of Work: Having lived in a gray world with limited language for so long, each piece is filled with vibrant, bright colors to represent the beauty of communication, identity, and community. Even with constant audism, Deaf people have continued to emerge victorious through sign language, shared experiences, and most importantly, love. With so many identities within the Deaf community, each artwork explores different themes through repeated motifs and emphasis on the eyes, hands, and heart. As Deaf people pursue equality, we also pursue a place in our communities, in the broader public, and in humankind — and each artwork shows how we do that.

Seema Shah is a self-taught visual artist and writer who lives in Vancouver, BC. Seema’s foray into creative work began rather organically after the onset of chronic illness and disability several years ago. Since leaving a career in healthcare, she has focused on creative work. Seema’s visual art usually takes the form of small-scale mixed media collages. She often incorporates text into her work. Working intuitively, her collages are visual narratives that reflect aspects of her self and experience. Since 2017, Seema’s art has been included in several group shows, many relevant to disability, including: Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture’s ‘Nothing Without Us’, Coast Mental Health’s Art Project Road Show, The Kettle Society’s annual Art Against Stigma, and the Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival. Her work has also been included in shows at Outsiders and Others in Vancouver, including her first two-person exhibition in January 2021.

Brief Description of Work: ‘More Underneath’ is a mixed media collage by Seema Shah. This piece connects to the theme of ‘Without Labels’ through Seema’s lived experience of chronic, disabling mental and physical health conditions that have labels that are invalidating on many levels. When the label of an invisible disability draws skepticism, minimizes its severity, is equated with a character flaw and/or is considered a choice, it bleeds into others’ overall perception of the person to whom the label is applied. Both societal and internalized stigma deter disclosure, adding to the invisibility of certain conditions. The text and largely obscured figure, as well as the layers, scratches on the surface, and “masking” tape in this collage allude to the invalidation caused by damaging disability labels. Assumptions are made with little and/or inaccurate information. It can take just a few words to keep people from being seen accurately or being seen at all.  

Lisa Merida-Paytes holds a M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati 1997 and B.F.A. from the Art Academy of Cincinnati 1991. Her work has been featured in exhibitions and publications nationally and internationally for 23 years. She has taught all levels and served in professional positions, Gallery Director at FUNKe FIRED ARTS 2007-11 and Art Director/Founder of the Kennedy Heights Art Center 2004. Appointed as Co-Liaison for NCECA Conference held in Cincinnati 2021, she served as NCECA Board Member 2020-2021. She published her own curriculum on Paperclay. Her work is featured in Ceramics Ireland Issue 45 2021 & Issue 39 2017, 500 Figures in Clay Volume II 2014, Best of 500 Ceramics: Celebrating a Decade Clay 2012, Studio Ceramics: Advanced Techniques, (Cover artist) 2010, Pottery Making Illustrated, July 2009 (Cover artist), Raku, Pit & Barrel 2007, Ceramics Monthly October 2006, 500 Raku 2010 and 500 Animals 2006.

Brief Description of Work: As an artist with disabilities caused from Ataxia, a rare neurological disease that is progressive, affecting my ability to walk, talk, balance myself and use fine motor skills, my artwork not only considers the essential structure of skeletal or embryonic animal references but has become a vehicle to interpret transformative changes occurring in my body caused from the progression of the disease. Also, my work researches and brings awareness people living with disabilities while pushing the boundaries of contemporary art. My work discusses these concepts by focusing on movement’s copious flow, a manner of passage of the living body to one’s gait and gesture. This work drives examination and permits curiosity uncovering aspects of human nature and wonder of origin. These juxtaposed ideas reveal blurred distinctions between connections and dysfunction exhibited in multi-media multivalent invocations of the body.

David Isakson is a Jewish schizophrenic emerging outsider artist who lives and works in Oak Park, CA In 1996 upon returning to the US from Amsterdam with a mental illness and a passion for sculpture, David built a workbench with recycled wood and started working. In 2012 David Isakson began to exhibit regularly, Winning prizes in juried group shows for his work, he developed his sense of deconstruction humor and continued to refine his assemblage work. With over 80 shows and 100+ pieces of art to his credit, he has exhibited at BG gallery in Bergamot Station, Santa Monica CA. The Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura, CA and a solo show titled Relics of the Civilization of Myself at The Blackboard Gallery in Camarillo CA, among others. His work is collected in the United States.

Brief Description of Work: I never really felt like a David, I never really felt like the label referred to me. All of the different parts of me never seemed to be one thing, David, but were in turn many many things reaching out. So I trust my gut and make things that are not narrative but are also not conceptual, in so doing I struggle with the monologue of my own identity. Instead of one David thing I proliferate and bloom into literally hundreds of other becomings per day, per hour, per minute. It’s difficult to make a sculpture about mental illness, but for ikouii I have labeled my creations, and in so doing limited their possible interpretation, their authorship, and their ownership. I have in fact made them less free, I have marginalized my own work, by labeling it David, at the same time as I have embraced my own disability.


Yuri Arajs is a working artist who has dedicated much of his practice to advocating for fellow artists, including artists who live with a disability. He has founded and ran a number of arts organizations and art galleries in the US and in Canada over the last 20 years, including as former Gallery Director of Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts and Outsiders and Others in Minneapolis, and Executive Director of newly launched Outsiders and Others in Vancouver, BC. Yuri is also an accomplished artist, holding three degrees, including a Master of Fine Art from Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work is in both private and public collections.

Kait Blake is the Administrative Director of Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, a Vancouver BC Canada based non-profit that supports and promotes professional artists who identify as living with disabilities. While she is not an artist, she is a consumer and lover of all things art and has been since early childhood! Kait is passionate about equity, accessibility and inclusion in the arts, and society in general. Kait lives with severe depression & anxiety, learning disabilities and chronic pain; She is vehement about breaking down the stigma associated with disability, and most specifically mental illness.

Bay Area native, Antoine Hunter also known as Purple Fire Crow, is an award-winning Internationally known African American, Indigenous, Deaf, Disable, choreographer, dancer, actor, instructor, speaker, Producer and Deaf advocate. He creates opportunities for Disable, Deaf and hearing artists and produces Deaf-friendly events, and founded the Urban Jazz Dance Company and Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival. He has lectured across the U.S. including at Kennedy Center’s VSA, Harvard and Duke University, and the National Assembly of State Arts. Hunter serves on the boards of Dance/USA, DCARA, BABDA and councils for CalArts Alumnx and Intrinsic Arts.

Ikouii Founder, Aleatha Lindsay also served on the selection committee. Lindsay is an Atlanta based award-winning multi-disciplinary artist, independent curator, disability advocate, and published author. She is a graduate of Georgia State University, Russell Sage College, as well as Savannah College of Art & Design where she holds a Master of Arts in Creative Business Leadership. She has held curatorial and leadership roles at several arts organizations in the metro Atlanta area including Kudzu Art Zone – Art Center and Gallery. Deaf from the age of 2, she has a lifelong passion for inclusion and accessibility in the arts. Her work has been purchased by collectors nationally and exhibited in Atlanta, New York, Spain, Morocco, and Norway.

Jenna Reid is the Artistic Director of Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture. She is a fibre artist who works primarily with the practices of quilting and natural dyes as a way to engage with activist-based aesthetics. Jenna’s studio work explores inter-institutional violence informed by the histories of queer, feminist, Deaf, disability, and mad movement organizing. With a studio-based PhD in Critical Disability Studies at York University, Jenna’s teaching and research specializes in the emergent field of Mad Studies. Jenna has published in The Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Canadian Art, Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Policy, and Practice, Journal of Progressive Human Services, and Studies in Social Justice.


Nupur Sachdeva, International Artist Liaison of The Ikouii Creative. Nupur is a visual and performance artist from Mumbai, India. She is a graduate of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kolkata and the Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University where she holds degrees in Fashion and Fashion Management. Sachdeva also holds a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Fashion at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Nupur currently resides in Arkansas where she is the Associate Museum Educator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.


The Ikouii Creative is a disability-led organization committed to providing opportunities and support for artists with disabilities as well as transforming cultural institutions into an engaging and meaningful space for all visitors. The Ikouii Creative serves artists worldwide, in countries including the United States, Canada, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Israel, and India. The organization offers a diverse spectrum of exhibitions, events, and programs to amplify its impact in the arts sector.