The New Brunswick Disability Art Collective will be presenting its first showcase at the Fredericton Playhouse from Jan. 11 to Feb. 28.
Ysabelle Vautour, the founder of the collective, said she was always interested in the intersection of disability and art. She wanted to be an agent of change in the province but recognized that she needed more voices than just her own.
“Because there’s so little in the media about disability, whatever I said had a lot of weight. I can’t be the one person. So by having a collective of people, then it kind of raises more voices,” said Vautour.
She said that art is a way to communicate stories and experiences and she hopes that those experiences will be understood through the art show.
“There are all these unheard stories and it’s very powerful to be able to share your story and have it heard and understood, especially when many people have trouble communicating,” said Vautour.
Kyra Goguen, a Moncton-based artist and member of the collective, hopes non-members will see the showcase and want to create themselves.
“I hope this inspires other people, especially people with disabilities, to maybe pick up brushes, or clay or a camera,” said Goguen.
Three of Goguen’s watercolour pieces will be featured in the show.
Goguen is a linguist and customer service representative by day and an artist by night. She enjoys watercolour because the medium is less precise than oil or acrylics and it helps her with letting go of her desire to be in control.
“I think sometimes in life, we want to control everything and for me, having a disability, it just put me in a more vulnerable position in life sometimes,” she said.
The local artists featured in the event include Vautour, Goguen, Cassandra Mazariegos, Laurianne Vautour and Ryan Annett.
The collective started in 2020, yet some members have never met each other due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Goguen said they have something that unifies them as a group, despite their distance from one another.
“We have that same goal of making art accessible to everyone and not just actually creating art, but appreciating art,” she said.
This is the first time Goguen’s art will be featured in an art show, but due to provincial COVID-19 measures, she cannot celebrate with wine and cheese with her loved ones like she hoped.
“It won’t be a big party, but it’ll still be great for the rest of the community or whoever visits the Playhouse to see,” she said. “These people, they all have disabilities and look at the cool art they create.”