Proposals due on July 30, 2018

Conference scheduled for

26-28 October 2018


In conjunction with the premier of the exhibition Process and Presence: Contemporary Disability Sculpture, DisArt is proud to announce its 2018 International Conference, a 2+ day global event celebrating and critiquing the contemporary experience of disability through the arts. Located in the award-winning Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park (Meijer Gardens) where the exhibition will be on display, this conference will feature the highest quality of Disability art, performance, criticism, and academic discussion.


DisArt is quickly becoming one of the world’s most recognized producers of innovative, contemporary, Disability Art events: through its groundbreaking access designs, employment of new technologies, and countercultural presentations, DisArt proves its commitment to raising the participation of Disabled people through curated contemporary art exhibitions,cutting-edge events public productions, education, and organizational coaching. We believe that Disabled people deserve to do more than merely get inside spaces and events – they deserve to fully participate in our culture. This international conference is your chance to get involved with a movement destined to position creativity as a powerful way to increase the visibility, value, and voice of all Disabled people.

Process and Presence: Contemporary Disability Sculpture Exhibition

For over two years, DisArt has been partnering with Meijer Gardens in order to assemble a collection of art objects that, when exhibited together, communicate powerful messages about Disability Art and its common, cultural language. The exhibition Process and Presence: Contemporary Disability Sculpture, which includes art from Japan, Australia, Taiwan, the UK, and the US, is the first of its kind, focusing only on abstract, process based art. here are a variety of artists included in the exhibition: Judith Scott (USA), Lisa Bufano (USA), Shinichi Sawada (Japan), Yamamoto Ai (Japan), Sachie Takada (Japan), Atsushi Yoshimoto (Japan), Petra Kuppers (USA), Sandie Yi (USA), Neil Marcus (USA), Terry Williams (Australia), and Brian Catling (UK).

Conference Premise
Accessibility is not a product. Rather, it is a process, one that requires the efforts of a diverse community of voices, experiences, and expressions. In addition, it is becoming clear that the arts, defined broadly, have an integral part to play in constructing our cultural and political understandings of access in the 21st century. The 2018 DisArt Process and Presence International Conference hopes to gather proposals from the highest quality of global discussion-starters (artists, activists, community organizers, designers, legislators, etc.) for this exciting community event.

The arts continue to be a crucial component of the global Disabled community’s hope for independence, integration, and political identity. And as Disabled voices and imaginations continue to be amplified within the walls of galleries, the stages of theaters, and other creative public spaces across the globe, it is crucial that we look closely at the impact of this process. Moreover, it is imperative that we understand how Disability art is experienced around the world, taking time to learn from a multitude of international contexts. Guiding our discussion of these matters will be keynote speaker, Creative Growth Executive Director Tom di Maria, who will speak on on the transformative work he is initiating in the global markets of contemporary art.

We will also explore whether or not Disability art has made a noticeable difference in the contemporary experience of disability? Has the creative energy of the global Disability culture offered more access to economic and political freedom? Or, has the discourse of creativity put forth by Disabled artists unknowingly created a comfort zone for the rest of the world, one in which the creative representation of disability gets more attention and respect than the actual presence of physical and mental differences in our communities? Has urban design and development led to more access for Disabled people in cities around the world? Our keynote speaker Aimi Hamraie will help us explore the theoretical and political elements of design, access and inclusion visible in the 21st-century “enlivened cities” movement.

Inspiration for Your Submission

The themes of the exhibition Process and Presence address the global issues of embodiment, change, aesthetic imagination, artistic energy, and the fluidity of mental and physical experiences. Proposals for papers, presentations, panels, and performances could be proposed from a wide variety of approaches to disability, art, and culture. The following are meant to assist those preparing a submission for the conference: 


  • Provide critical interpretation of the themes and/or artists presented in the exhibition Process and Presence: Contemporary Disability Sculpture exhibition;
  • Respond to current practices, exhibitions, and discussions of Disability Art;
  • Explore political, cultural, and aesthetic conditions of the post ADA community in the United States and beyond;
  • Critique universal design and/or inclusive design;
  • Explore trends in critical and creative design;
  • Explore global and/or international work being done in Disability Art;
  • Questions how Disability Art critiques or conforms to cultural understandings of access and disability experience;
  • Explore the transformative powers of art with regards to the experiences of disability including but not limited to fashion, design, and performance;
  • Critique the many ways in which Disability Art is packaged or presented as a category/genre of contemporary art;
  • Provide and critique innovative uses of technology in galleries around the world;
  • Question how programming and productions help ensure that artists and audiences are having authentic, meaningful experiences of Disability art and culture;
  • Question whether or not Disabled artists being integrated into the contemporary art scene or exploited by it;
  • Integrate design (or design thinking) into discussions of disability, art, and culture;

Your Proposal (July 30 deadline)

DisArt welcomes proposals for papers, panels, and artistic performances that coincide with the themes of the conference. Please email your submission to All submissions should include the following:


  1. A copy of your CV or Resume;
  2. A written proposal that includes:
    1. Clear representation of argument (no more than 200 words)
    2. Potential bibliography (5-10 sources)
    3. Images that relate to your submission (no more than 5)
    4. Explanation of how the work fits into the themes of the conference (no more than 100 words)
  3. A short video (2 minutes or less) in which you respond to the following prompts:
    1. What is the main idea of your presentation?
    2. Why do you want to participate in the 2018 DisArt Process and Presence International Conference
    3. These can be emailed to OR texted to 616-881-6689 [include your name]