6/15/2013 8:00:00 AM Legally blind artist lectures on disabilities and art
Catherine Miller, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Northwest Portland, will read from her manuscript and lecture on her new book, “A Somewhat Secret Place: Disability and Art,” Tuesday, June 25, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Jack London Bar, 529 SW Fourth Ave.
Miller, who was born legally blind, writes about creations by people with and without disabilities in fine art, literature and performance. She suggests new ways to understand disability in art, which she shares from her perspective as a legally blind artist.
American Sign Language interpreters will be on hand, and the bar has an accessible lift. Miller’s project has spanned three years, and the book was funded in part by a 2012 Regional Art and Culture Council Project Grant.
Miller graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2008, and currently serves as president of the Oregon Women’s Causes for Art.
“Historically, little consideration has been given to the merit of art by people with disabilities despite the fact that disability is a common variant of the human form,” Miller told the Catholic Sentinel in 2011.
Since she was a student at PNCA, Miller has been exploring what she calls the “ocular-centricity” of the art world.
She cites as an example Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s annual Time-Based Art Festival. Many of the performances were held in the long-shuttered Washington High School in Southeast Portland. That building, Miller said, doesn’t even come close to being ADA accessible.
“A lot of art patrons tend to be older people who have decided to dedicate this portion of their lives to enjoying the arts or having a new career in the arts or philanthropy,” Miller said. “Seeing these patrons trying to get into a gallery or squinting at gallery labels in 8-point fonts — it just doesn’t make sense.”