VISIBILITY: A Selection of Black Deaf
and Disabled Performance Artists

Curated by Aleatha Lindsay

Lizzie Emeh, Chinasa Vivian Ezugha, Chris Fonseca, Antoine Hunter, Leroy F. Moore Jr.,
Ellice Patterson, Syrus Marcus Ware

Bringing together some of the most significant performance art practitioners today, The Ikouii Creative presents VISIBILITY: A Selection of Black Deaf and Disabled Performance Artists. This global selection of artists presents not only their own individual interpretation of culture and exploring identity, they are also innovating, educating, and creating space to inspire new realities and ways to move forward.

This virtual exhibition aims to celebrate the aesthetic sensibility of the Black disabled community, showcasing performance arts as a vehicle for producing raw and exciting new narratives of acceptance and adaptation. There is much reflection on the complexities of disability and blackness, but humanity is the core that profoundly shaped these artistic developments. In the backdrop of muted hues and vibrant colors, moving shapes and sounds, this vast repository of performance artists is activating communities, sparking necessary dialogue, uprooting pressing concerns, and capturing the communally shared ethos that ties us together.

As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to recognize the exceptional historical and creative cultural contributions made by Black people with disabilities. Therefore, we must also reflect on the realities and challenges that continue to shape their lives. Today, too many people with disabilities still face significant challenges accessing the supports, services, and accommodations they need to live their daily lives. These challenges continue to disproportionately impact Black people with disabilities.

Together these performances are indicative of how these artists have created innovative ways to capture the ephemeral and enduring moments that shape our experiences. They have created transformative work that contains the power and content to encompass our universal challenges. The result is a profoundly riveting connection that binds us all.

Join us this month for a series of Ikouii Virtual Studio Visits on Instagram. Featuring exhibiting artists from VISIBILITY as well as Ikouii Artists. Learn more about each artist, their studio practice, their lives as artists and their work. View the full schedule of participating artists virtually inviting you into their studios here.

To learn more about how to get involved at Ikouii, go here.
To make a donation to The Ikouii Creative, go here.

Special thanks to our staff & volunteers for making this exhibition possible.

Stay a while. Enjoy.

*For best viewing, please view from a laptop, tablet, or stream on a television and allow a few minutes for the exhibition to load.

Leroy F. Moore Jr.
Invisible Man, 2018
Video by Reid Davenport
Caption Provided by Cheryl Green

Transcription for the Visually Impaired, Voice of Nupur Sachdeva

Lizzie Emeh
Softly Hearing, 2019
Video directed by Hannah Mason & Ben Connors
Produced by Heart n Soul
Caption Provided by The Ikouii Creative

Transcript unavailable, please visit us back in a couple of days.

Vivian Chinasa Ezugha
Because of hair; the dichotomy of culture and identity
Filmed and edited by Rosie Cooper (rxcrose.com)
Supported by the Arts Council England
Caption Provided by The Ikouii Creative

Transcription for the Visually Impaired, Voice of Nupur Sachdeva

Antoine Hunter
Don’t waste my blood sweat, 2019
ASL Interpreter Jay Jempson
Music by Erykah Badu “No More Trouble”
– Bob Marley Tribute
Video by UJDC’s Production “Deaf Louder”
Caption Provided by The Ikouii Creative

Transcription for the Visually Impaired, Voice of Nupur Sachdeva

Syrus Marcus Ware
Ancestors, Can you read us?
(Dispatches From The Future), 2019
Commissioned by Toronto Biennial of Art & the RIC
Caption Provided by The Ikouii Creative

Transcription for the Visually Impaired, Voice of Nupur Sachdeva

Ellice Patterson
I’m Tired, 2020
Video by Malcolm Digital
Caption Provided by The Ikouii Creative

Transcription for the Visually Impaired, Voice of Andrew Choe

Chris Fonseca
Flip that sh!t, 2020
Music by Psyk
Video by Odd Ventre
Caption Provided by The Ikouii Creative

Transcription for the Visually Impaired, Voice of Nupur Sachdeva

EXHIBITING ARTISTS

Lizzie is an award-winning singer/songwriter. She describes her sound as “eclectic with lots of soul”.

Lizzie made history when she released her debut album Loud and Proud and became the first solo artist with a learning disability to release an album of original songs in the UK.

She continued making her mark in the music industry, winning two national awards, performing across the UK and Europe and releasing three more EPs – The Clan, My Baboo and Meds (out in Spring 2019). Lizzie has collaborated with a number of songwriters and musicians in a unique creative process to create her music. These include Charles Stuart (musical director for Grace Jones) and Robbie Fordjour (drummer for Courtney Pine’s band). Other collaborators include Arthur Lea, Bobbie-Jane Gardner, JB Rose and Grace Savage.

Lizzie’s latest EP ‘Meds’ looks at Lizzie’s experiences of mental health and how she gained back control of her own life.

Lizzie Emeh is a key artist at creative arts organisation Heart n Soul.

Chinasa Vivian Ezugha is a Nigerian-born artist living and working in Hampshire. Her work looks at the transition of Black women and their identity within culture from colonised subjects to emancipated figures. Vivian works predominantly in performance, using the medium to decontextualise and reconstruct what it means to be alive in this present time and to protest for a world where we are all allowed to dream. She is the founder of Live Art in Wymondham, a one-day site-specific series of events that aimed to bringing emerging artists working in live art to rural Norfolk.

Her work has been presented in venues across Europe, America and the UK, including In Between Time Festival (Bristol, 2017), SPILL Festival (Ipswich, 2018) and Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival (Chicago, 2015). She is the winner of the New Art Exchange Open Main Prize (2019), and a recipient of the Santander Universities Post Covid-19 Performance Making Enterprise Award (2020), supported by Santander Universities and ICCE, Goldsmiths, University of London. Ezugha is also a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter and a Research Associate at the Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry.

Black and white photo of a bearded black british man looking to the right, wearing glasses and a dangle earring

Chris Fonseca is a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher and global deaf ambassador, specialising in Urban dance technique. He is based in London, and works extensively across the UK, and overseas, as he often receives international invitations and commissions.

Chris credits his earliest inspirations are actor Michael ‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers, and Old Skool dance techniques such as; Electric Boogaloo, Popping, locking and B-Boying. He is a founding member of Def Motion (2011-13), an all-deaf dance group affiliated to Deaffest – the UK’s annual Deaf Film Festival, during this time he graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a degree in Graphic Communication. The proceeding eight years has offered him a diverse spectrum of experiences and accomplishments. In 2012, Chris appeared in the Paralympics opening ceremony (London 2012, UK) illuminating his talents as an accomplished dance artist and creator. More recent activities include; The Black Collective: Black History Month, (2015) Smirnoff: Ice keep it moving campaign, LinkedIn Chase the great campaign (2016), SKY1 what’s up TV BBC: The one show, (2017), BBC THREE: Amazing Human JBL: Sound to See, campaign (2018), BBC: The Greatest Dancer, Wind In The Willows Musical Theatre (Touring UK), CBeebies: Blue Peter (2019). CNN, Facebook App, More than words music video by Sleepwalkrs ft MNEK, CuteCircuit and strictly Come Dancing (2020).

African American man standing against a black background looking into the camera, shirtless with a chiseled body, full beard and his dreads are tied in a low ponytail, he is holding his arms up to the left side of his face with one hand pressing on the lower part of his other hand that is outstretched

Bay Area native, Antoine Hunter also known 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.

Antoine has received numerous grants and awards including the inaugural Jeanette Lomujo Bremond Award for Humanity, Isadora Duncan (Izzie) for Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival, and SF King of Carnaval.

Antoine’s work has been performed globally, most recently in Turkey, UK and Russia. He has lectured across the U.S. including at Kennedy Center’s VSA, Harvard and Duke University, and the National Assembly of State Arts. In 2019 alone, his company Urban Jazz Dance Company, an ensemble of professional Deaf and Hearing dancers, performed for and engaged more than 4,200 schoolchildren. His shoe company DropLabs and Susan Paley just released an innovative product to help people feel music through their shoes. He is Vice President of Deaf Counseling, Advocacy and Referral Agency (DCARA’s) Board. DCARA is a non-profit, community-based social service agency serving the deaf community. Established in 1962 as one of the first deaf-run agencies in the country. Hunter serves on the boards of Dance/USA, DCARA, BABDA and councils for CalArts Alumnx and Intrinsic Arts.

Black and white, grey scale photo of a bald African American man,, wearing a hoodie and holding a microphone looking far off away from the camera

Leroy F. Moore Jr., Founder of the Krip-Hop Nation. Since the 1990s, has been a key member of Poor Magazine that started with a column “Illin-N-Chillin” for POOR Magazine then onto a founding member of Poor Magazine’s Homefulness and Decolonize Academy, their school. Moore is one of the founding members of National Black Disability and activist around police brutality against people with disabilities. Leroy has started and helped start organizations like Disability Advocates of Minorities Organization to Sins Invalid to Krip-Hop Nation. His cultural work includes film documentary, Where Is Hope, Police Brutality Against People with Disabilities, spoken-word CDs, poetry books and children’s book, Black Disabled Art History 101 published by Xochitl Justice Press.

Leroy is one of the original creator of Poor Press of Poor Magazine that has publish his books since the late 1990’s including his graphic novel, Krip-Hop Graphic Novel Issue 1: Brown Disabled Young Woman Super Hero Brings Disability Justice to Hip- Hop was published in 2019 and 2020 under Poor Press Leroy also wrote Black Disabled Ancestors. Moore has traveled internationally networking with other disabled activists and artists. Moore has written, sang and collaborated to do music videos on Black disabled men.

African American woman with shoulder legnth straight hair looking into the camera against a nature background with a tattoo on her shoulder

Ellice Patterson is the Founder/ Executive and Artistic Director of Abilities Dance, a Boston-based dance company that welcomes artists with and without disabilities. She is also the Executive Director of BalletRox, a Boston-based dance education program to provide access to high quality dance education to youth within Boston Public Schools and in our after-school program in Jamaica Plain.

Outside of self-produced Abilities Dance’s shows, her choreography has appeared in the MFA, Links Hall in Chicago, Gibney Dance in NYC, The Series: Vol IV at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre in NYC, and more. She has given lectures and workshops at schools, universities, and organizations across the country, including Harvard Graduate School of Education, Fidelity Investments, Boston University, and more. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from Wellesley College and her Masters of Science in Management Studies from Boston University Questrom School of Business.   

Black and white photo of a black Canadian man looking into the camera against a grey background, his sides are shaven, he has dreads tiedup into a bun with a few hanging down on the right side, he is wearing a beaded necklace

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. His work has been shown widely, including in a solo show at Grunt Gallery, Vancouver (2068:Touch Change) and new work commissioned for the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art and the Ryerson Image Centre (Antarctica and Ancestors, Do You Read Us? (Dispatches from the Future)) and in group shows at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Art Gallery of York University, the Art Gallery of Windsor and as part of the curated content at Nuit Blanche 2017 (The Stolen People; Wont Back Down).  His performance works have been part of festivals across Canada, including at Cripping The Stage (Harbourfront Centre, 2016, 2019), Complex Social Change (University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, 2015) and Decolonizing and Decriminalizing Trans Genres (University of Winnipeg, 2015).

He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective and co-programmed Crip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks 2014. Syrus’ recent curatorial projects include Thats So Gay (Gladstone Hotel, 2016-2019), Re:Purpose (Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2014) and The Church Street Mural Project (Church-Wellesley Village, 2013). Syrus is also co-curator of The Cycle, a two-year disability arts performance initiative of the National Arts Centre.

Syrus is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter- Toronto. Syrus is a co-curator of Blackness Yes!/Blockorama. Syrus has won several awards, including the TD Diversity Award in 2017. Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by NOW Magazine (2005) and was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award (2012). Syrus is a PhD candidate at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies.

Curator

African American woman with long dreads wearing a long sleeve black top inside a studio space painting onto a large canvas with purple and yellow paint

Aleatha 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. Trained in classical ballet since the age of 7, she studied Dance Movement Therapy in Corfu, Greece under the direction of Dr. Danielle L. Fraenkel. After completing her studies, she went on to pursue posts in the mental health, arts community development, and special education arenas. 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 credits her early exposure to the arts with helping her overcome the challenges related to her disability. Her work has been purchased by collectors nationally and exhibited in Atlanta, New York, Spain, Morocco, and Norway.

Lindsay is the Founder and Curator of The Ikouii Creative, an organization that supports artists with disabilities globally and assists organizations in adopting more inclusive attitudes. The Ikouii Creative serves artists worldwide, in countries including the United States, Canada, The Netherlands, 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.

SAY THEIR NAMES

#BlackDisabledLivesMatter

In remembrance of Black disabled lives lost to state violence and systemic racism

Proceeds from our collaboration with Dear Black Artist below will go to support initiatives and organizations working to end violence and systematic racism towards Black disabled people. See resources here for how you can learn more and get involved.

Freddie Gray
Keith LAmont Scott
Reginald Thomas
Sandra Bland
Michael Noel
Tony McDade

Kaldrick Donald
Adam Trammel
Kajieme Powell
Eric Smith
Roy Nelson
Donald Ivy

Michelle Cusseaux
Milton Hall
Tanisha Anderson
Quintonio LeGreir
Korryn Gaynes
Jeremy McDole

Eric Garner
Laquan McDonald
Steven Watts
Ezell Ford
Tamir Rice
Elijah McClain