Founded by Alice Wong, the Disability Visibility Project (DVP) is an online platform dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying Disability media and culture. In the spirit of “Nothing About Us, Without Us,” a cornerstone principle of the Disability rights movement, the DVP creates space for people with disabilities to represent themselves on their own terms, an objective that resonates with themes of empowered self-representation included in the exhibition Show Me as I Want to Be Seen.
Three oral histories from Deaf and Disabled artists, interviewed and collected by Alice Wong at StoryCorps San Francisco, are featured here. Exploring gender, Disability and Deaf culture, ableism, and the body, these stories invite all audiences to deepen their understanding of disability and challenge normative constructions of identity.
Image description: Inside the StoryCorps booth Alice Wong and Ace Ratcliff are facing each other engaged in an interview. The StoryCorps booth has a wooden wall panel with vertical lines, a small white table, a large light bulb coming out of the wall. Alice appears to be interviewing Ace who is smiling, and both have microphones perched on a stand in front of them. Ace is Caucasian a femme with a shaved head and a red jacket on; Alice Wong is an Asian American Disabled woman in a wheelchair. Wong is wearing a mask over her nose attached to a tube for her ventilator, has long, dark hair, and a dark jacket.
I want to have all of the designs showing all kinds of disability...Because, it’s just like, mainstream fashion has completely failed us. I think that the entire fashion industry needs to have an overhaul and completely change.
Image description: On the left is Sky Cubacub, a non-binary queer and Disabled Filipinx human, wearing a colorful chainmaille headpiece of magenta, purple, turquoise and yellow, a sleeveless purple mesh tank top, and a necklace that looks like chains in purple and magenta. On the right is Alice Wong, an Asian American Disabled woman in a wheelchair. She is wearing a top with a geometric stripe print of aqua, black, white, and red. She is wearing a mask over her nose attached to a tube for her ventilator.
I love being a dancer...I was outcast by both Deaf and hearing, and I felt that they just couldn’t understand me. That’s why I did it.
Image description: On the left, Alice Wong an Asian American Disabled woman wearing a bright green rain jacket. She is wearing a mask over her nose attached to a tube for her ventilator. She is sitting closely next to Mr. Antoine Hunter, a self-described handsome, dark milk chocolate, African American man. He has long Ebony dreadlocks tied back and a full Ebony-colored beard with full brown lips. He is wearing a black hoodie that says, “I [heart] Being BLACK.”
I really am excited to be able to expose young people to artists with disabilities and artists of color and people that you don’t always find in the canon, that you don’t necessarily get from the canon...It feels like a great responsibility to me to do that as a teacher.
Image description: On the left, Alice Wong an Asian American Disabled woman wearing a black jacket and black scarf with little white daggers. She is wearing a mask over her nose attached to a tube for her ventilator. On the right is Jennifer Justice, a young Caucasian woman with very light, long, blonde hair with bangs pulled back. She is wearing a heather gray scoop neck shirt. She is smiling at the camera.
Sky Cubacub is the founder and creator of Rebirth Garments. Sky Cubacub identifies as a Gender Queer Person of Color (QPOC) from Chicago with lifelong anxiety and panic disorders. Rebirth Garment’s mission is to create gender nonconforming wearables and accessories for people on the full spectrum of gender, size, and ability. The line creates a community where all people can confidently express their individuality and identity. In contrast to mainstream fashion that caters to cisgender, heterosexual, white, thin people, Rebirth Garments is centered on QueerCrip people. QueerCrip is a politicized umbrella term that encompasses queer, gender nonconforming identities, visible and invisible disabilities and disorders—physical, mental, developmental, and emotional.
Image description: Sky Cubacub is a non-binary queer and Disabled Filipinx human, wearing a colorful chainmaille headpiece of magenta, purple, turquoise and yellow, a sleeveless purple mesh tank top, and a necklace that looks like chains in purple and magenta.
A Bay Area native, Mr. Antoine Hunter is an award-winning African-American Deaf producer, choreographer, dancer, dance instructor, actor, speaker, model, poet, and Deaf advocate. He has performed and hosted workshops throughout the Bay Area and the world including London, Italy, Cuba, Africa, Peru, Paris, and Rome, just to name a few. He teaches dance and ASL in both Hearing and Deaf communities and is the Founder and Artistic Director of Urban Jazz Dance Company since 2007 and the Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @thegreatdancer.
Image description: Mr. Antoine Hunter is a self-described handsome, dark milk chocolate, African American man. He has long Ebony dreadlocks tied back and a full Ebony-colored beard with full brown lips. He is wearing a black hoodie that says, “I [heart] Being BLACK.”
Jennifer Justice is a multimedia artist, educator, and scholar. Her art practice explores the intersections between disability, technology, medicine, and art. Her work has been exhibited at StoreFrontLab and the African American Cultural Center in San Francisco, the Chicago Cultural Center, Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, and the Birmingham Museum of Art. She is a lecturer in the Practice of Art and Disability Studies minor at University of California, Berkeley.
Image description: Jennifer Justice is a young Caucasian woman with very light, long, blonde hair with bangs. She is wearing a heather gray scoop neck shirt. She is smiling at the camera.
Alice Wong is a Disability activist, media maker, and consultant. She is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project® (DVP). Founded in 2014 as a community partnership with StoryCorps, the DVP is an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying Disability media and culture. Wong is also a co-partner in three projects: DisabledWriters.com, a resource to help editors connect with Disabled writers and journalists; #CripLit, a series of Twitter chats for Disabled writers with novelist Nicola Griffith; and #CripTheVote, a nonpartisan online movement encouraging the political participation of Disabled people with co-partners Andrew Pulrang and Gregg Beratan.
In 2018, Wong was featured on Bitch Media's The Bitch 50 list, which recognizes the most impactful creators, artists, and activists in pop culture. She was also on the Colorlines 20 X 20 list, which honors transformative leaders reimagining what it means to advance racial justice. She currently works as an independent research consultant as part of her side hustle. Follow her on Twitter @SFdirewolf.
Image description: Color photograph of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair. She is wearing a black jacket with a multi-colored patterned scarf. She is wearing a mask over her nose with a tube for her Bi-Pap machine. Behind her is a wall full of colorful street art.
The Disability Visibility Project® is a community partnership with StoryCorps and an online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing Disability media and culture.
All excerpts of artist oral histories are produced and curated by Alice Wong, text transcription provided by Cheryl Green, and photos courtesy of StoryCorps.
Image description: Logo with a transparent background with two lines of text, the first one larger font size: "Disability Visibility Project" the second line, "Creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture @DisVisibility." Image credit: Squarespace.com
This collaboration is part of The CJM’s ongoing effort to create pathways within The Museum that support Disability arts and culture through programs, community-based partnerships, and artist initiatives that celebrate a diversity of voices, lived experiences, and perspectives.
Want to learn more? Here is a list of books, zines, videos, and other media that address topics including Disability representation in art history, Disability arts and activism, and the intersections between disability, gender identity, race, immigration, and class. Select publications are available in the Show Me as I Want to Be Seen Resource Room at The Museum.
Access Programs are made possible by major support from Wells Fargo Foundation. Additional generous support is provided by The Morse Family Foundation.
Image description: Logo with a black square background with two rows of white text reading, "Wells Fargo."