IKOUII OPEN: INSPIRED IDENTITY
JUNE 1. 2019 – AUGUST 1. 2019
Gwendolyn Anne Davies, Ann Marie DiStefano, Terresa Ford, Cheryl Kinderknecht,
Ellen Mansfield, Cassandra Sandy Rind, Alaina Williams
Inspired Identity explores the interwoven influence of art, disability, culture, and societal attributes that make up their identity, sense of self – What inspires us further into our identity? How does impairment barriers influence our identity? What capacity does society have to affect our identity?
The Ikouii Open is an annual online group exhibition of artwork created by both disabled and non-disabled artists. Artists who practice in a variety of mediums or discipline at any stage in their art career are encouraged to submit work in response to a disability-centered theme. The goal of the open is to activate social movements, educate, inspire, and evoke change within the arts and disability communities.
Gwendolyn Anne Davies was born in San Antonio, Texas and went on to spend most of her life moving every few years. In her research and art practice she investigates the context of home and domestic space, and self and identity in relation to contemporary culture. Davies graduated with a BFA in Photography from Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and Barrett, The Honors College in December 2015. She went on to receive her MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology in May of 2018.
She is currently teaching Photography and Design courses at Monroe Community College as she continues to create, publish, and exhibit her own work. She has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions across the United States and been featured in various publications. Her work is held in the William Jenkins Archive as part of the Northlight Gallery Permanent collection in Phoenix, Arizona. She recently won the Visual Studies Workshop Award for her work in the Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s 28th Annual Members Exhibition.
Ann Marie DiStefano was born in 1961 in Boston, Massachusetts. She studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and at the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center in Rutland, Vermont under B. Amore (formerly known as Bernadette A. D’Amore), a world-renowned sculptor. DiStefano traveled to Cararra, Italy, studying marble carving at the Studio Di Nicole. Her work has been exhibited since 1980, and is included in numerous collections and private showings. DiStefano’s art is privately owned by numerous collectors. With each work of art, I take several things into consideration: choices of style and color, emotional approach, and degree of experimentation. My disability (mental illness) informs my work strongly, and my approach draws from a critical eye kept on precedent. As works evolve, experimentation leads to new directions—and, ultimately, surprise.
Terresa Ford I am a native of Buffalo, New York. After receiving a BFA in painting from the SUNY College at Brockport, I continued and earned a MFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art. I am also the product of 10 years of study at MollyOlga Art School in Western NY. For almost 40 years, I have painted figurative works in a unique style that incorporates vibrant color, design and form. Painting for me is a way to communicate with people and God. My Lord & Savior has many names in the Christian Bible. He goes by “Lily in the Valley,” “Lamb of God,” “the Vine,” “Bread of Life,” and many, many more. Painting these little portraits is an act of prayer for me. I use visual imagery as a catalyst for discussions about the nature of spiritual evolution as it applies to behavior. Even if I could not sell my work I would still make art and yet, I intend to financially support my family from my artworks. It is important to me that local artists become and are seen as viable economic resources in their communities. I envision a world where artists are revered both for their gifts to culture and their contributions to the economic livelihoods of their communities.
Ellen Mansfield Since 2011, hands and eyes have been a dominant motif in her tile designs. She has developed a strong voice—as a Deaf Activist who uses art to take a stand against injustices experienced by Deaf people. At the same time, she celebrates the language and culture of Deaf people—affirming our unique ways of being in the world. Thus, themes of darkness/light and oppression/liberation are often shown in her art. Ellen keeps a home studio called Ellen’s Tile Stroke Studio in Frederick. The studio has a kiln and she had commissions for hand-painted tiles for mural decorations, kitchen backsplashes, fireplace mantel surroundings, and murals behind ranges for past 25 years. She led many workshops in ceramics, drawings and paintings for over 600 Deaf children, hearing children of Deaf parents, and Deaf adults. Ellen curated the first-known public gallery exhibition of Deaf artists’ works in Washington DC. The Let There Be Light: De^ARTivism exhibit ran from August 12th-September 4th, 2015. This juried exhibition drew over 135 submissions with works from a variety of mediums: painting, drawing, sculpture, digital computer art, assembly art, and fabric art. The participating Deaf artists include professional artists, amateur/emerging artists, prisoners, and children.
Cassandra Rind In high school, Sandy Rind’s love for art led her to study under wildlife artist Maddie Kenney. Real life drew her to a career as an engineer but in 2008, Sandy had a brain aneurysm rupture causing a massive stroke that paralyzed her left side and affected her vision. For over four months, she lived in the ICU and rehab center. Relying on her faith in Christ and the love of her family she began on a long winding road to recovery. Most would feel this “life altering event was meant for my demise,” but she is confident that this was intended for God’s good. It’s not about what she has to go through but what God is going to do through her!
Part of her recovery was renewing her love for art and broadening her scope of painting through the creative redirection by the acclaimed artist Bud Heiss. He taught her a deeper appreciation of the use of color, which Sandy applies in her paintings. Currently Sandy, working with acrylics on canvas, says a measure of love, a heaping portion of inner strength, mixed with the prayers of her family allow this love to shine in her paintings. Sandy exhibits her work and has won awards locally. Her work is held in private collections. “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thes. 5:18
Cheryl Kinderknecht is a mixed media artist who happens to be visually impaired/legally blind secondary to retinitis pigmentosa. While this degenerative condition limits how much she can see, Cheryl relies upon intuition, dreams, emotions, and her panoramic visual memories to inform and drive her work.
Alaina Williams, originally from Central Florida, is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and classically trained in piano and dance. Now she is the head curator for Abby Essie, a vintage furnishings and clothing firm based in Atlanta. As an artist, Williams’ creative expression has been both fueled and expanded forward by her work as a curator and designing. “I believe you are at your best when your work can merge with your creativity. I’ve learned that control and perfection can war with free form expression. Rules are meant to be broken and if you allow the universe to be your guide, your creations can be a delight. Letting go of the reigns, allows the soul to soar without delay. Over the past few years, my visual art has included photography, film, collages, painting on canvas, paper, wood, up-cycled signs, furniture, picture frames, even drop ceiling tiles.”
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