Chicago Disability Activism, Arts, and Design: 1970s to Today

Chicago Disability Activism, Arts, and Design: 1970s to Today explores how disabled artists and designers in Chicago were integral to the development of a local and national disability rights movement, creating radical change for more than one fifth of the US population, as well as for all of American society, and influencing lasting transformation in the visual art and design fields. The exhibition focuses on the history of the disability arts movement in the late 20th century and early 21st century, and the interplay between disability arts, the development of universal design, and disability rights activism. Through artworks, oral histories, documents, and other ephemera, the exhibition will tell the stories of Chicagoans with disabilities and their allies who broke barriers, created change in policy and federal law, and changed culture at a time when the reality of life for many disabled people was the restrictions imposed by institutionalization and segregation. Disabled people in Chicago changed the cultural agenda, challenged the medical model of disability, and told the world that ‘disability’ wasn’t disabled peoples' problem; it was society’s problem for having disenfranchised and disabled people by creating barriers for full participation and engagement.