Organizing for Accessibility: A Roundtable Discussion with Kevin Gotkin, Catherine Morris, Carmen Papalia, and Alice Sheppard

Organizing for Accessibility:
A Roundtable Discussion with Kevin Gotkin, Catherine Morris,
Carmen Papalia, and Alice Sheppard

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
4 to 6pm

Carmen Papalia's  For a New Accessibility  workshop on July 23, 2016

Carmen Papalia's For a New Accessibility workshop on July 23, 2016

Building on Carmen Papalia's Open Access workshop, artist, educator, and activist Kevin Gotkin, curator Catherine Morris, Carmen Papalia, and choreographer and dancer Alice Sheppard strategized about how to organize for accessibility, discussing methodologies that we can employ - as artists, curators, organizers, and individuals - in the current social, cultural, and political climate, as the revamping of the health care system puts marginalized communities at even greater risk. The conversation also addressed the state of disability as a field of interest in contemporary art, and the role language plays, as a tool of alienation or inclusion. Ultimately, the panel exploreed how agency and power inform institutional access and publicness.


Kevin Gotkin is Co-Director of the Disability/Arts/NYC Task Force. With disability and arts advocate Simi Linton, he directs a number of initiatives to develop a robust platform for disability equity in New York’s arts and culture landscape. He is also a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, where his research focuses on disability and media in the latter 20th century U.S. He currently teaches courses on disability artistry, media studies, and identity politics at New York University.

Catherine Morris is the Sackler Family Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum where, since 2009, she has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions including We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-1985; Judith Scott-Bound and Unbound; Chicago in L.A: Judy Chicago’s Early Work, 1963-1974; and Materializing Six Years: Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art. Morris has worked on projects examining contemporary practices through historical precedents, including the current museum wide project The Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum and Agitprop!. She has worked on exhibitions and curatorial projects with Beverly Buchanan, Marilyn Minter, Zanele Muholi, Suzanne Lacy, Matthew Buckingham, Lorna Simpson, Kiki Smith and Rachel Kneebone and produced historical exhibitions such as Twice Militant: Lorraine Hansberry’s Letter to The Ladder, Newspaper Fiction: The New York Journalism of Djuna Barnes, 1913-1919, and Healing the Wounds of War: The Brooklyn Sanity Fair of 1864. Previously an independent curator, Morris organized, among other projects, Decoys, Complexes and Triggers: Women and Land Art in the 1970s at SculptureCenter, New York; 9 Evenings Reconsidered: Art, Theatre and Engineering, 1966 for the List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and two exhibitions, Gloria: Another Look at Feminist Art of the 1970s and Food at White Columns, New York.

Canadian artist Carmen Papalia makes participatory, socially engaged projects on the topic of access as it relates to public space, the art institution and visual culture. In early 2015, Papalia served as Artist-in-Residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, UK and at the Model Contemporary Art Centre, Sligo, Ireland, where he assumed the role of Access Coordinator, making site specific interventions in response to the long history of disabling practices at each institution. He recently finished a project in collaboration with Sara Hendran and students from the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering to develop an acoustic mobility device. Papalia’s work has been featured as part of exhibitions and engagements at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum, CUE Art Foundation in New York City, the Grand Central Art Center at California State University, Fullerton, the Portland Art Museum, and the Vancouver Art Gallery, among others.

Alice Sheppard is the founder and artistic lead for Kinetic Light, a collaboration with dancer Laurel Lawson, lighting and video artist Michael Maag, and professors Sara Hendren, Yevgeniya Zastavker, and students of Olin College. Sheppard was accepted in the third cohort of NEW INC’s arts incubator for this project.

An award-winning choreographer, she creates movement that challenges conventional understandings of disabled and dancing bodies.  Engaging with disability arts, culture and history, Sheppard attends to the complex intersections of disability, gender, and race. Her work has been commissioned by CRIPSiE, Full Radius Dance, and MOMENTA Dance Company.

She studied with Kitty Lunn and made her debut with Infinity Dance Theater.  After an apprenticeship, Sheppard joined AXIS Dance Company where she toured nationally and taught in the company’s education and outreach programs.  She has danced in projects with Ballet Cymru, GDance, and Marc Brew in the United Kingdom.  In the United States, she has worked with Marjani Forté, MBDance, Infinity Dance Theater, and Steve Paxton.  As a guest artist, Sheppard has danced with AXIS Dance Company, Full Radius Dance, and MOMENTA Dance Company.  She has also performed as a solo artist and academic speaker throughout the United States.