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SiTE:LAB collaborates with DisArt on ArtPrize entry "Hybrid Structures"

ArtPrize entry and related programming aimed at changing perceptions of disability.
Underwriting support from:

ELEVATE: A DisArt Fashion Show

Rumsey Street Project, 333 Rumsey Street SW, Grand Rapids, MI

Saturday, September 25, 2016

8:00 p.m.


SiTE:LAB’s “Everything’s Transformed” ArtPrize exhibition at 333 Rumsey St. SW, will contain a major collaborative work called “HYBRID STRUCTURES.” The work is a collaboration between artists Paul Amenta (SiTE:LAB curator and co-founder), Alois Kronschlaeger (a New York-based artist), Ted Lott (Grand Rapids architect) and DisArt (local organization changing perceptions about disability through art.)

In addition to the ArtPrize entry itself, DisArt will host programming on the Rumsey Street Project site including a variety of events, installations, and performances, all aimed at changing perceptions of disability.


“HYBRID STRUCTURES” is a complex system of ramps and platforms that allow all audiences (on ADA-compliant ramps) to travel between three buildings on Rumsey Street, taking visitors through both first- and second-floor exhibits. At its highest point, visitors are 16 feet above the ground, simultaneously transforming a visitor’s experience and perception of the site.

DisArt Executive Director Christopher Smit explains “’HYBRID STRUCTURES’ promises to offer a wide variety of audiences an experience that transcends the normal boundaries of bodies and buildings. The structure transforms everyday objects (ramps, walls, windows) into platforms of possibility and discovery. The significance of this exercise becomes deeper as audience members interact with the key issues of inclusion, diversity and disability itself.”

SiTE:LAB and DisArt are developing an app with accessibility functions to help ensure that visiting Rumsey Street Project is open to everyone during. For example, there will be audio descriptions of all of the “Everything’s Transformed” exhibition artwork for people with visual impairments.

ELEVATE: A DisArt Fashion Show

DisArt will use the ramps and platforms from “HYBRID STRUCTURES” during its ELEVATE Fashion Show, a performance promising to be a highlight of ArtPrize 8. Disabled models from the Grand Rapids area will wear curated fashions made by designers from New York, Chicago, Mexico, Boston and West Michigan. The show, produced by KBO Group, will be a multimedia experience including projections on buildings, a state-of-the-art light show and digital audio.

The fashion show, visible from many vantage points on the Rumsey Street Project site, will be audio-described for visually impaired audience members, and also interpreted in American Sign Language.

Robert Andy Coombs, fashion lead for DisArt, produced the 2015 DisArt Festival Fashion Show. He explains, “After the great success of the 2015, show I was delighted to get the opportunity to work with DisArt again. I was immediately excited to learn that we would be collaborating with SiTE:LAB in order to make ‘HYBRID STRUCTURES’ double as the runway! This show will be more dynamic and diverse than the last with all-new amazing designs and creative vision.”

Gene Davidson and The Edge Salon will do hair and makeup for the event. The fashion show will be streamed live for those who are unable to attend.

DisArt Hybrid Gallery (open during ArtPrize hours)

DisArt’s permanent space during ArtPrize8 will be the DisArt Hybrid Gallery at 333 Rumsey Street. The Gallery will offer a context for both the “HYBRID STRUCTURES” installation and the ELEVATE Fashion Show by helping visitors understand the complex nature of disability and its expression through art.

The gallery will include an exhibition of documentary photography by the renowned disability rights photographer Tom Olin. Curated by Elizabeth VanArragon, the “Access is a Civil Right: The Photography of Tom Olin” presents striking images that illustrate the fight for civil rights by Disabled people in the United States.

The gallery will be a site for other DisArt programming during ArtPrize, including a poetry reading by University of Michigan Professor Petra Kuppers, author of “Pearl Stitch” and Stephanie Heit on September 30, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.

All the events described are made possible by generous financial and production assistance from The Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation, the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation, Twink Frey, KBO Productions, The Edge Salon, Universal Mind, RepcoLite Paints Inc. and many others.

About DisArt

DisArt changes perceptions about disability, one piece of art at a time. Through curated programming and strategic partnerships, DisArt creates necessary civic conversations that help bring physical and mental differences into a cultural landscape where they are understood better and celebrated. These conversations aim to facilitate individual and institutional (systems) actions where universal access, disability rights and social integration become a central part of the cultural consciousness.

The mission of DisArt is centered on the idea that disability belongs within the larger, cultural imagination regarding the varied systems and meanings of human identity and community. DisArt both creates and facilitates cutting-edge, contemporary and performing arts programs that center on disability, identity and community making. These relational programs intentionally engage people in ways that change how they think about, speak about, and act toward each other. 

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