Arts and Access
Most of our friends, followers, and constituents know that the Missouri Folk Arts Program is based at the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri. MFAP has been anchored at the Museum since 1993, and, since 2013, MFAP has been housed in the same building (Mizzou North). For MFAP staff, being in the same physical space as our colleagues has been beneficial for any number of reasons, like being in close proximity to our colleagues, learning more about the Museum’s operations and collections, and finding opportunities occasionally to collaborate on projects.
Typically, MFAP has programmed artists for performances and demonstrations in the galleries or during special events. MFAP has also developed presentations that complement exhibitions, as we did in 2017 with Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America.
This week, the Museum opens Electrify!, a traveling exhibition sponsored by the Kennedy Center and Volkswagen Group of America. Fifteen emerging young American artists with disabilities, ages sixteen to twenty-five, contributed works to the exhibit, and one, Brianna Beck, will visit Columbia in February to give a talk about her work and offer a workshop.
Museum staff, including MFAP staff, has worked over the last several weeks to coordinate the exhibition, the artist visit, and some additional programming. For instance, Museum Educator Cathy Callaway coordinated a talk earlier this week for docents and staff with Amber Cheeks, who is the Disability Inclusion and ADA Compliance Manager at the University of Missouri. Those of us who attended the enrichment session where indeed enriched. Ms. Cheeks presented a slideshow of best practices to include and welcome people with disabilities into the Museum and its programs.
In conjunction with the exhibition and special events, MFAP Director Lisa Higgins invited staff from Services for Independent Living, a Columbia-based non-profit, to give a presentation on February 9, 2018. SIL promotes independence for persons with disabilities, seniors, and veterans. SIL’s Mark Ohrenberg and Scout Merry will talk to guests in the European Gallery from 2-3 p.m. about barriers to artists with disabilities and assistive devices that may minimize those barriers.
At the Missouri Folk Arts Program, we know traditional artists who have temporary, chronic, or permanent disabilities, and we are committed to continuing our own education, hoping to make MFAP projects and events as inclusive and welcoming as possible.
*Thanks to Museum Assistant Director Bruce Cox for creating the stunning poster.