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Sense of Self: Accessible Art and Disability Studies

"Sense of Self" took place on November 10th, 2017, at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, uniting students and faculty from across Michigan State University to reimagine the art museum as an inclusive space. Focusing on art accessibility across the visual disability spectrum, this day-long exhibition incorporated both academic theory in the form of a multidisciplinary symposium, and hands-on, creative engagement through an exhibition of accessible artwork created by MSU students. The event was funded by an engaged pedagogy grant from the Michigan State University College of Arts and Letters, with additional support from the Broad Museum.

The symposium brought together two national leaders in accessible art, museum outreach, and disability studies, Dr. Georgina Kleege (UC Berkeley) and Lucas Livingston (Art Institute of Chicago), to share critical insights and expertise with an audience of faculty and students representing several departments and a range of multidisciplinary interests.


The exhibition featured artwork designed to be interacted with by touch, sound, and smell. To create this unique collection, MSU professors Natalie Phillips (English) and Alisa Henriquez (Studio Art) worked together to design a cross-disciplinary collaboration between students in literature and painting courses. Literature students assembled a montage of written works connected by their powerful use of multisensory imagery. The collection included original student poems as well as selections from existing novels, poetry and short stories that move beyond visual imagery to engage audiences in imagined sights, sounds, tastes, smells, textures, and environments. Art students used these literary pieces as inspiration to create multisensory pieces that upend visual art’s perceived bias toward the optical, using embodied experience to reimagine our engagement with art. In honor of Veterans Day, the exhibition also highlighted works that focused on multisensory experiences of war. Guests were invited to touch the artworks, exploring the exhibit with their eyes, ears, and hands. University President Lou Anna K. Simon attended the event, which was covered by local media including The State News and the College of Arts and Letters.


Images of the exhibited artworks, text and audio versions of the literary selections, and statements from the writers and artists have been made accessible below as part of the legacy of this collaborative event. The full event program can be downloaded here.

Veni, Vidi, Vici…
Literary work: Josue Kpodo
Artwork: Jacob Chaban

Literary work: Daniel Seong, Cassidy Tuthill
Artwork: Peiyu Chen

Gazing into Twilight
Literary work: Sarah Farnsworth
Artwork: Dana Konkel

I Chew the Dawn, I Eat the Day
Literary work: Briana Beeman
Artwork: Jaren McNamara

How to Tell a True War Story
Literary work: Zihan Li, Sydney Carey, Eryn Vanderhoeven, Julie Vernon, Celia Oatis
Artwork: Cande Bramble

Literary work: Talia Cohen, Katherine Conroy, Frances Smith, Devon Valent
Artwork: Lindsay Poll

Here, Bullet
Literary work: Jes Lopez
Artwork: Lexi Flint

Stride, Stride, Stride
Literary work: Kara Swanson
Artwork: Zherong Hu

The Story of My Life
Literary work: Kathy MinHye Kim, Soohyun Cho
Artwork: Golda Pinals

What Is War?
Literary work: Sydney Naseef
Artwork: Raven Powe

The Scent of a Studio
Literary work: Alex Babbitt
Artwork: Autumn Hopkins

Never to Dream of Spiders
Literary work: Susie Mackel, Jillian Mahon, Katie McGarry
Artwork: Aixing Chen

The Things They Carried
Literary work: Maggie Jelcin, Julia Kurth, Alena Chodnicki, Rebecca Ryder
Artwork: Amy Leuenhagen

Hues among Fires
Literary work: Katie Cwiakala
Artwork: Darcy Shank

Seeing with My Eyes Closed
Literary work: Claire Matthews
Artwork: Sanyu Zhu

The Night is a Carnival of Wings
Literary work: June Oh
Artwork: Courtney Bennett

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