Omikemi’s guest editorship in November/ December 2020 explored the timely inclusion of caring, reparative, embodied and healing practices emerging from lived experience as a disabled person and/or artist. Their editorial was broadly shaped around the following questions:
- Is it time to revisit and re-think what has been a contentious relationship between disability arts and the notion of healing? Is the disability arts aesthetic in a unique position to engender practices which speak to the social call for repair, justice and healing?
- What practices, approaches, ways of relating, structures, emerge from living with a disability and how might some of these contribute to the evolution of the existing disability arts aesthetic and practices?
- What possibilities does the inclusion of healing arts, care, embodied and reparative practices hold for sustainable practice within disability arts?
- What would an embodied disability arts practice look like?
I wanted to invite artists, healing practitioners and activists into a conversation about the relationship between disability arts and healing. I’m interested to know, how, as creative and healing arts practitioners, we might make care, repair, healing and justice a central consideration in our practice and how this might look for us individually and collectively? The topic emerged from living as a black queer woman regularly confronted with barriers, vulnerabilities and the psycho-somatic toll it takes to survive and find joy in a system built to undermine those of us whose very nature confronts and refuses to conform to the capitalist normative ways of being.
I’m relatively new to identifying as a disabled artist but one of my first observations encountering disability arts was the seeming absence of work that intentionally and explicitly focused on care, repair, healing processes and practices. With these considerations being essential for my survival I felt attuned to what I perceived to be an absence of work focused on these concerns, at least within the mainstream of the disability arts aesthetic.
I also wanted to speak to the difficult relationship that has existed between disability arts and the concept of healing. It seems part of this narrative has involved a dissociation from healing as a concept that tends to accentuates the vulnerabilities involved in being disabled, in a way that is often seen as feminine, feminising, — weak. Yet it has been our vulnerabilities that have driven us to create solidarity, spaces, webs of care and practices that support the wholeness of people in our communities. It was my own particular vulnerability as living as an estranged person trying to manage additional isolation flares during physical distancing that led me to create WayMaking, a Black-centred online creative and healing arts space at the start of the pandemic. I’m curious to hear more about the ways people are creating as a means of caring, repairing, healing or connecting
I’m hoping through hearing the voices, experiences, perspectives and practices of established and emerging artists, healing practitioners and activists we can find ways back to re-engaging with the concept of healing that supports us to create work and practices that are sustainable, transformative and in service of our wholeness.