Agenda & Speakers

Symposium to strengthen opportunities for artists with disabilities

October 30, 2009, 12:30 - 5pm
Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Symposium Agenda

Registration (12:30-1:00pm)

Sign in at the front lobby of Weisman Art Museum, get your nametag and symposium folder, and enjoy the art.
(Note: We will not offer lunch. Please have lunch on your own prior to this event.)

Welcome Remarks (1:00-1:10pm)

David R. Johnson, director of the Institute on Community Integration, along with co-chairs of the planning committee, Pat Salmi & Megan Dushin, will offer opening remarks.

Keynote Presentation (1:10-2:10pm)

From the Margins to the Mainstream: Artists with Disabilities in a Contemporary Context

Keynote presentation by Tom di Maria of the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California. Tom's presentation examined several key issues facing artists with disabilities working in today’s art environment. Numerous questions were raised, including: What are the obstacles that keep self-taught artists and artists with disabilities from being seen as contemporary art makers? What is the role of art centers in supporting artists with disabilities? How do we evaluate the quality of such art works? What amount of biographical and background information is optimal for viewing this work? Tom's presentation also looked at the Creative Growth Art Center model for addressing the above concerns. Time was provided for audience questions and answers.

Panel Presentations (2:20-3:05pm and 3:15-4:00pm)

The following panels occurred simultaneously, and were repeated:

My Art, My Life: Focus on Artists
Select artists with disabilities in the community showed images of and discussed their artwork.

Teaching the Arts: Focus on Art Education
Art educators talked about the importance of quality education for students with disabilities in K-12 schools, university-settings, and in the community.

Visions & Models: Focus on Arts Programming
Program staff discussed their visions and models for best practices in providing community arts programming.

Closing Remarks (4:10-4:20pm)

Craig Dunn, executive director of VSA Minnesota, offered the closing remarks. Afterwards, we invited participants to announce upcoming events and/or programs they're involved with.

Art Social/Viewing (4:20-5:00pm)

Light snacks and beverages were provided during the art social/viewing time.


Keynote (1:10-2:10pm)

Head shot of Tom di MariaTom di Maria
Tom di Maria is the director of the Creative Growth Art Center. Prior to this position, he served as Assistant Director of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, at UC Berkeley. Tom has worked as the Executive Director of FRAMELINE, and as Director of Development and Marketing at the San Francisco Film Society. He holds a B.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology and a M.F.A. from Maryland Institute, College of Art, in film and photography. Tom is also an award-winning filmmaker, with short film awards from Sundance, Black Maria, Sinking Creek, National Educational Media, and New York Experimental film festivals.

Creative Growth is the world's oldest and largest art center serving artists with developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities. It was founded in 1974, based on the then radical notion that people with disabilities could also be creative and artistic. To date, the center has positioned more than 140 artists with disabilities in the top realm of the contemporary art world.

In his role as director, Tom led a $1.8 million campaign to renovate the center's facilities and managed the renovation project. He founded Galerie Impaire, the center's non-profit gallery in Paris, in June 2008, and has included Creative Growth artists in contemporary collections such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. See more about Tom and Creative Growth in this video tour.

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