ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Through My Lens: Justin Cooper chronicles the artist’s wanderings and engagements with various accessible and inaccessible sites in Chicago’s neighborhoods and beaches. A wheelchair user, Cooper employs photography as an evidentiary tool that addresses issues of access during the COVID-19 pandemic. This streetside exhibition brings attention to the ways disability is defined by societal, environmental, social, and physical barriers that restrict leisure and quality life for people with mobility impairments. With the exhibition’s locale, Gallery 400’s windows on Van Buren, Cooper’s images invoke viewers to consider their lived experiences in navigating a world that privileges normalcy and able-bodied-ness. Through My Lens is presented in conjunction with Crip*.
Justin Cooper is a Black visual artist and disability advocate who has been working professionally in art and film professionally since 2012. The lack of media representation amongst people with disabilities motivated him to work on his own documentary film called The Wheelchair Chronicles. Justin is the president of Access Living’s Young Professionals Council and the Head Marshal of the annual Chicago Disability Pride Parade and does advocacy work for Advance Your Leadership Power (racial/social justice advocacy group at Access Living) and the Chicago Disability Activism Collective (CDAC). Justin is a 2020-21 Junior Artist In Residence with the Disability Culture Activism Lab (DCAL) in conjunction with Access Living and was a 2021 3Arts/Bodies of Work Residency Fellow.
The works in this exhibition were produced during a 2021 3Arts/Bodies of Work Fellowship, which was supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Joyce Foundation.
Support for Through My Lens: Justin Cooper is provided by the School of Art & Art History, the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago; the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.