Fashion is political. Fashion is powerful. Fashion allows us to express the autonomy we have over our bodies and our identities to the world. However, the many barriers that exist in the fashion industry and its historical marginalization of the disability community have often left people with disabilities out of the conversation.
To flip this script, Epicenter Community (now Transformative Culture Project), in collaboration with Arts Emerson, convened many partners, including VSA Massachusetts, to launch the Fashion Accessibility Project (FAP) : a celebration of disability, beauty and humanity through fashion.
FAP convened people with disabilities and fashion designers to create custom-made outfits that were showcased in a fashion show at the Paramount Black Box Theater on June 24, 2017. The show created a platform for community to get dressed up, feel beautiful and celebrate our common humanity, but more importantly, it gave visibility and urgency to this conversation.
This exhibit is a visual retrospective of the FAP process and show, and allows us to continue the conversation, highlight the great work that’s happening around adaptive fashion, and create a call for continued change.
Reception May 31, 2018 6-9pm, Panel Discussion 6:30pm with:
● Nicole Agois, Moderator, VSA MA Managing Director
● Heather Watkins, Activist and blogger
● Keith Jones, Activist, advocate and performer, President of SoulTouchin' Experiences
● Jay Calderin, Fashion designer, and Director of Boston Fashion Week
● Arielle Gray, Writer, and Social Media and #AssembleBOS Coordinator, TCP
● Nicole Olusanya, Special Initiatives Manager, ArtsEmerson
Ali Blake, Associate Gallery Curator at VSA MA and Ed.M Candidate in Arts in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
What are your favorite pastimes?
"Rollerskating, being in the ocean, questing for delicious food (and to make it!), a newfound appreciation for growing/harvesting/eating food from my deck (or in the wild!), an evening at home cooking and eating great food with friends while listening to some good music."
If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be?
"Daria Morgendorffer (+ warmth) -- intelligent, subversive, snarky."
You are trapped on an island. What three items do you want to have with you?
"A solar-powered, fully-loaded portable music player (iPod), a thriving garden plot to eat from/sustain, a huge book full of blank pages."
Do you have any uncommon talents or quirks?
"I find that when there is music playing my body will just start moving, I can't help it! This can also be music playing in my head and not just 'out loud'. I've also been known to create hybrid 90s nickelodeon characters!"
What brings you to VSA?
"Before starting graduate study, I previously worked as a Direct Support Professional at an arts-based day studio for adults with disabilities, as a Teaching Artist within a youth arts organization, and as someone who worked to connect people/places doing great and related work! VSA MA intentionally combines aspects of those experiences and I'm thrilled to be able to join in! As a new Bostonian, I'm grateful to start connecting with folks doing awesome work here!"
What are you doing during your internship?
"As Associate Gallery Curator I am assisting in the process of re-imagining the Open Door Gallery space, mission, purpose, programs both within and outside of its walls and across VSA MA's programs!"
This multi media installation is a group effort involving artists from all 5 locations of the Seven Hills Foundation's ASPiRE! Programs. The participants have made repeated trips to the Worcester Art Museum during the Knights! exhibit following the acquisition of the Higgins Armory Collection and the recent opening of the new Medieval Collection. In workshops at the museum and in their own studio workshops these artists have created original artwork inspired by the museum's collection.
The exhibit features work in media ranging from ceramics, paintings, collage, and clothing inspired by the period.
Seven Hills ASPiRE!, an affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation, offers innovative and creative programming that provides opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, and brain injury to develop skills necessary to pursue interests in employment, recreation, and social interaction. With an emphasis on Innovative Lifelong Learning, Seven Hills designed the ASPiRE! model to help people enrich their lives, broaden core competencies, and enjoy a full range of activities while cultivating a network of relationships in and around their communities. The model has restructured the way that traditional day habilitation, adult day health, community-based day supports, and workforce readiness & employment services are typically offered by promoting personal choice and self-determination in a more dynamic and dignified, community-driven environment. Learn more about the ASPiRE! program by visiting the Seven Hills Foundation website.
Visit Visions of Avalon at the Open Door Gallery now through October 15, 2017 - 89 South Street in Boston or online at opendoorgallery.org.