Issue #002 Eye Level: Visual Artist Cat L’Hirondelle

 

Editor’s Note: You, and you alone can identify with whatever you like. Cat L’Hirondelle is a multi-media artist from Vancouver living with a disability. I wrestled with the decision to introduce her like this, for I believe the term ‘disability’ can stir up lamentable pity. Attention is positive. Pity is not. But after communicating with Cat, I began to understand that her disability makes up a large part of who she is. Something that should be embraced, celebrated like a freckle on the skin. Awktober Magazine is pleased to present a few selected pieces by Cat L’Hirondelle.

 

photo by cat l'hirdondelle
Defying Gravity: 2013, metal, mixed media sculpture, 3’x4′

 

I am in a wheelchair so my disability is obvious. As an other-abled person, I frequently experience being trapped by society’s limited views and labels.  My work is intended to get people thinking about their possible limited perceptions and to see the humanity in each other.”

 

Hardwired:
2010, copper mesh and wheelchair parts, 33″x24″x24″

 

What exactly does accessibility mean?

 

On a regular basis people talk to my assistant/attendant instead of to me; not photo by cat l'hirondelle only do they see I am in a wheelchair; they assume I cannot speak for myself.  And boy, are there a lot of stairs in the world! 

 

Right now, I am rendered unable to get out of my house due to the snow.  Wheelchairs are not very maneuverable in the snow and ice. 

Another example is travelling which is extremely difficult!  I’ve been told numerous times by numerous hotels, etc., that they are “accessible” when they do not even have a bar in the bathroom for aiding toileting, showering, etc., in some places there is not even an accessible place to sleep.

I call restaurants and they say they are accessible “but there is just one small step”, and if they do have a bar in the bathroom, it might be that the screws are loose, it is only fastened on one end, etc.   In some cases the handicapped area is used for storage.”

 

 We're Here... I: 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 24
We’re Here… I:
2014, Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 36″ (unframed)

 

Art making is my nature; it is a powerful desire in me. It is also a way of interacting with other people. Much of my art is political in nature and makes a statement about many issues, from disability to feminism. As an art activist, much of my work is a message from the margins to the mainstream, giving voice to the ‘other’.”

 

 

We're Here... II: 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 36
We’re Here… II:
2014, Acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 24″ (unframed)

 

Many artists like Cat are able to share their work because of Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture – an organization that provides disabled artists the opportunity to share their work…



I think Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture is very important because it is the only disability arts and culture organization in the lower mainland.  Kickstart attempts to be socially relevant and artistically engaging by encouraging authentic images and interpretations of the disability experience. Kickstart supports artists with all kinds of disabilities to present art from visual, musical, and performance projects to written and spoken word and multi-media pieces.  It also offers professional paid opportunities for artists to produce and present their work.”

 

For more information about artists like Cat, or to simply show your support, visit kickstartdisability.ca