Mar 4th 2022

Crip* Colloquium Day One

@ Gallery 400

400 S. Peoria St, Chicago, IL 60607

Opening Friday, March 4th, from 2PM - 8PM

On view through Saturday, March 12th

Register for Day One
Register for Day Two
Alt Text As Poetry Workshop

The Crip* Colloquium, co-presented by Gallery 400 and UIC’s Disability Cultural Center, is a gathering of artists, scholars, and students to explore questions raised by the works on view in Crip*. Over two days, these talks, workshops, conversations, and experiments will critically engage the generative complexities of disability experience, media, accessibility practices, and relationships to the normative.

For information about day two, click here.


Access Information: These events will take place live on Zoom and will be recorded. ASL and real-time captions will be provided. For any access requests, please contact or call (312) 355-7050.


Day One, Friday, March 4:

Carly Mandel Artist Talk


Carly Mandel’s practice considers structures of public space, industrialization, and the U.S. healthcare industry to understand the ways in which late-stage capitalism enacts violence on the body and memory.

Within her sculptures, Mandel works with traditional of-the-earth materials like clay, concrete, glass, metal and juxtaposes these with hypercommercial machine rendered objects.  The material tension portrays a parallel between the body and capitalism.

Mandel (b. St. Louis, MO) is an artist working in Brooklyn, NY. In 2015, she received her BFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR. Her sculptures have been shown nationally and internationally, current exhibitions include group exhibitions with the Gallery 400 in Chicago, IL, Gallery of Windsor in ON, Canada, and Helmhaus Museum in Basel, Switzerland. Mandel was a 2017 recipient of the Emerging Artist Grant from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and a 2019 recipient of a Visiting Artist Fellowship from UrbanGlass. In 2018 BOMB magazine published an interview between Kerry Doran and Mandel. She was a 2021 resident of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.  Most recently, Mandel was featured in the 2021 September / October issue of Art in America.


Crip, Cripping,  Crip*: Key Terms


Join UIC faculty as they reflect on key terms engaged by the Crip* exhibition: crip, cripping, normativity/non-normativity, intersectionality.

Crip*, as a collection and through individual works, stages encounters with a number of generative questions and related concepts: what normativities are at play in the gallery space, and what interventions can crip practices bring? What kinds of knowing and unknowing identity categories can be accessed through artmaking? How does intersectional analysis offer a vocabulary for resistance? This panel brings together UIC faculty for a conversation that reflects on key concepts engaged by the exhibition: crip, cripping, normativity/non-normativity, intersectionality.



Aly Patsavas, Assistant Professor in Disability and Human Development

Akemi Nishida, Assistant Professor in Gender and Women’s Studies and Disability and Human Development

Margaret Fink, Director of the Disability Cultural Center

Natalie Bennett, Director of the Women’s Leadership and Resource Center

Introduced by Carrie Sandahl, Director of the Program on Disability, Arts, Culture, and Humanities


Experiment / An Artists’ Cripistemology Roundtable
with Francisco echo Eraso, Shannon Finnegan, Christopher Jones, Alex Dolores Salerno, and Liza Sylvestre


This artist project and panel is inspired by a document titled ‘Proliferating Cripistemologies: A Virtual Roundtable’ compiled by Robert McRuer and Merri Lisa Johnson in 2014 and published in the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies. In it, fourteen theorists/writers/thinkers responded to the question “How might ‘cripistemologies’ work?”. The document foregoes ‘consensus’ and instead provides us with a chorus of complications, questions, challenges, and perspectives. In this spirit, the artists in this panel have answered questions, and posed questions for each other, with their focus being on the ways of knowing and understanding formed between them.


The Crip* Colloquium is funded by the University of Illinois Presidential Initiative: Expanding the Impact of the Arts and Humanities, as part of a larger project called Cripping the Arts. Cripping the Arts is a two-year collaboration between the Chicago (UIC) and Urbana Champaign (UIUC) campuses, intended to transform arts exhibition sites, art education, and studio art practice through new ideas about disability. The collaboration includes the Krannert Art Museum and Art Education, Art + Design at UIUC; and at UIC, Gallery 400, the Disability Cultural Center, Bodies of Work, and Art & Art Education.


Crip* is a group exhibition featuring artists who address disability and intersectional thinking. Some of the artists identify as disabled; some do not, but each has a relationship to (at least one) non-normative identity. Often artists are expected to “perform” their identities for the art world through imaging themselves. On one hand this diversifies the art world; but on another hand this, in fact, pigeonholes artists with non-normative identities, strengthens the distinction between normative and non-normative, and reduces the rich and complex knowledge gained through lived experience to a more flattened and singular interpretation.

The artists in Crip* are attuned to the concepts that exist beyond the reach of simplified identity distinctions or interpretations. For example, Emilie Gossiaux’s work is informed by her hearing loss and vision loss, but what drives her work is a broad interest and deep understanding of communication, interdependence, and the connection between sense and memory. Her sensory ability provides her with a unique vantage point, but is not limiting, and Gossiaux is not interested in producing work that can be reduced to simply imagining her specific sensory composition.

Alison O’Daniel’s expansive project The Tuba Thieves utilizes O’Daniel’s understanding of sound both through her access to it and through her awareness of its absence due to her hearing loss. Scene 55 The Plants Are Protected beautifully relies on the generative space of translation. In fact, O’Daniel created her cinematic visuals based on sound scores produced by five different composers; the Deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim produced the sound score for scene 55. Through O’Daniel’s project we are able to reconsider the rich and liminal space formed between absence and presence.

Crip* references Crip Theory, which was coined by professor, writer, and theorist Robert McRuer in his book Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability, published in 2006. McRuer describes how compulsory heteronormativity and compulsory able-bodiedness rely on non-normal bodies and identities to exist. Normativity is essentially held in place, and defined by, all of the things that “it is not.” Non-normative identities are shaped around and against normativity and are required to remain non-normative in order to preserve normative continuity. Where earlier disability studies theorized and constructed a somewhat singular disabled identity, Crip Theory has sought to utilize productive aspects of that identity while resisting its limitations, primarily to forge connections and networks across multiple identity distinctions. Similarly, the artists in Crip* take on and push against rigid identity distinctions by presenting complicated works that resist reduction. It is impossible to interpret a work like Brontez Purnell’s Pillow Fight without taking into account his identities as a Black person, as a gay man, as a person who is HIV positive, as well as the gentrification that plagues San Francisco. All parts of Pillow Fight are interconnected and resist singular and incomplete approaches. Crip* also includes work by Liz Barr, Shannon Finnegan, Max Guy, Christopher Robert Jones, Carly Mandel, Darrin Martin, Berenice Olmedo, and Carmen Papalia & Heather Kai Smith.

The artists in Crip* utilize a new vocabulary to articulate variations of ability and experience. They delineate between the empowering and useful aspects of identity that facilitate dialogue and the constraining or limiting aspects that extinguish it. The exhibition thus fractures and reassembles how we think about identity within the framework of our culture. Reverberations between the works ask us to redefine and question our own ingrained thinking about what it means to move through a world that both rejects and capitalizes on experiences that are not perceived as normal.

Curated by Liza Sylvestre, Curator of Academic Programs, Krannert Art Museum


Liz Barr, Shannon Finnegan, Max Guy, Christopher Robert Jones, Carly Mandel, Darrin Martin, Berenice Olmedo & Carmen Papalia and Heather Kai Smith.


Co-organized with Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where the exhibition is on view September 23-December 11, 2021.

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