Contributed by Alicia Neptune, Communications Specialist

On display at this year’s INCLUSION Art Show & Sale is a project from abOUT and posAbilities which brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities who identify as LGBTQ+.

The abOUT Art + Identity project paired individuals with intellectual disabilities with artists from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. They met weekly for three months, getting to know one another and discussing what was important to them. Each pair then co-created a unique artwork themed around identity. Other themes, like connection and inclusion, also emerged in their work. The artists worked in a variety of mediums, utilizing skills in photography, graphic design, and even 3-D printing, to name a few.

The original exhibition opened at Alternative Creations Studio earlier this year, in May.

Dress Rehearsal, Peter Nguyen & Hannah Franes

Hannah hold up her camera to show the images she has just captured to Peter, who is in drag as Amanda.

Peter’s interest in drag and Hannah’s interest in photography led to a photoshoot that captures the glamour and magic of drag. Inspired by classic drag aesthetics and with a tip of the hat to one of Peter’s favourite stars, Liza Minelli, the photos convey confidence and style.

In drag, Peter becomes Amanda Peters. He says drag helped him find his inner confidence and broaden his social networking skills, and that he’s seen it do the same for others.

“A lot of them feel if they do drag it’s like opening doors to meet new people in the world.” – Peter

The Gift, Colin Darge & David Gorodetsky

David and Colin at work on their project.

Combining Colin’s musical talent and David’s graphic design skills, the pair produced an album called The Gift. Colin has been playing piano and keyboard since he was a child and music holds a special place in his life. They recorded a diverse collection of his original compositions. Then, working with colours and images that inspired them, they created vibrant original artwork to showcase the CD.

“The abOUT program has really spoken to the fact that it’s about reaching out into communities and connecting people through art.” – David

ConvoCube, Marissa Riebesehl & Jacob Brennan

The most interactive of the three projects was the ConvoCube, which Jacob described as “a gamification of conversation.” Marissa had the idea to build a cube with icons which could be used to stimulate conversation. The simple icons, like a music note or a house, were created with a 3D printer. Guests at this year’s art show will have a chance to try out the ConvoCubes for themselves as part of the interactive display.

“This project is inspiring to me because it is based on the beautiful ideas and fundamentals of connecting two people.” – Marissa

Be sure to visit the Art + Identity display tomorrow at the INCLUSION Art Show & Sale—the exhibition takes place at Heritage Hall in Vancouver from 10:30am – 8:30pm. RSVP on Facebook to let us know you’ll be there!

To learn more about the project, and get a peek at the artwork, check out the video below:

abOUT is a community collaboration group started by queers for LGBTQIA2S+ folks labelled with Intellectual Disabilities. The group is about connecting, supporting and empowering folks to hold space for each other and with each other, to love and be loved.