Disability Power Series: A Conversation on Art, Disability, and the Body with Riva Lehrer and Sandie Yi

Dion McNeal
April 1, 2022

Disability Power Series: A Conversation on Art, Disability, and the Body with Sandie Yi and Riva Lehrer

This episode of our Power Series explores art from both Sandie Yi (She/Her/Hers/) and Riva Lehrer (She/Her/Hers)

Sandie Yi makes wearable art that addresses bodily and social experiences. All while sharing her story with us. Her art centers on histories and narratives generated within and performed by the body through everyday social interaction, my work aims to facilitate dialogue between the wearers and the viewers of these objects.  

“My work aims to facilitate dialogue between the wearers and the viewers of these objects. Crip Couture focuses on body reconfiguration through mapping the memories and the living experiences of the disabled bodies, medical and surgical intervention. Rather than rejecting the notion of physical alteration, I provide intimate and empathetic bodily adornment, not as a correctional physical aid, but as a tool for remapping and engaging with new physical terrain, one embodied with personal standards of physical comfort and self-defined ideals of beauty. You can access more of her work through her website at https://www.cripcouture.org/.  

Sandie (Chun-shan) Yi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art Therapy and Counseling and Program Director of the Disability Culture Activism Lab (DCAL) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She has a Master of Art in art therapy from SAIC and an MFA from the University of California Berkeley.

Our second guest to grace our screen, Riva Lehrer is an artist, writer, and curator who focuses on the socially challenged body. She is best known for representations of people whose physical embodiment, sexuality, or gender identity have long been stigmatized. The objects and their wearers call for a recognition of collective Crip experiences and suggest the possibility for a new genre of wearable art, Disability Fashion.”​

Riva Lehrer’s work has been seen in venues including the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian, Yale University, the United Nations, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the Arnot Museum, the DeCordova Museum, the Frye Museum, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the State of Illinois Museum.

Awards include the 2017 3Arts MacDowell Fellowship for writing, 2015 3Arts Residency Fellowship at the University of Illinois; the 2014 Carnegie Mellon Fellowship at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges; the 2009 Prairie Fellowship at the Ragdale Foundation. Grants include the 2009 Critical Fierceness Grant, the 2008 3Arts Foundation Grant, and the 2006 Wynn Newhouse Award for Excellence, (NYC), as well as grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the University of Illinois, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Her memoir, Golem Girl, will be published by the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House in October 2020. Ms. Lehrer is represented by Regal Hoffman & Associates literary agency, NYC. Ms. Lehrer is on faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an instructor in the Medical Humanities Departments of Northwestern University.

Rewatch this episode here ---> https://youtu.be/8ZEFgMu0vjI

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