Tameka Ellington, Ph.D., assistant professor of fashion design at Kent State University and Stacey Lim, Au.D., Ph.D., CCC-A, assistant professor of audiology at Central Michigan University are the co-curators of (dis)ABLED BEAUTY: The Evolution of Beauty, Disability and Ability. And they are excited that Kent State University Museum is presenting their exhibit, opening this week. You should be too because it’s going to be a real treat.
“The exhibition came about via the relationship I built with Dr. Stacey Lim,” says Tameka. “We were doctoral students together here in Kent, she in audiology, I in education. We had stats class together. Our first joint project was research study on “Adolescents’ Aesthetic and Functional View of Hearing Aids or Cochlear Implants and Their Relationship to Self-Esteem Levels” (published in the Fashion Practice journal).
“We also met Martha Hall, who did research on fashionable prosthetics at a conference on fashion and health at the University of Minnesota. We loved her presentation, and it inspired us to take our research a step further,” explains Tameka. “Martha makes infant exoskeletons and has a piece in the exhibit.”
Inspired by KSU’s disAbility Awareness Month, the women put parentheses around the “dis” to show the opposition or stigma around being disabled. They’re really trying to emphasize the fact that just because someone uses an assistive device doesn’t mean they’re less able.
“It was such an important topic for us as doctoral students at Kent State,” states Tameka. “When we first started developing the concept, we talked with teenagers with disabilities from the local community about their experiences. One teen, who was interested in fashion, said she wanted to dress up her hearing aid. Getting those responses from teens showed us they want something beyond what’s on the market that’s expressive of who they are.”
The mission is to engage audiences with a unique exhibition showcasing assistive, prosthetic and adaptive devices, along with extensive public programming.
“This will help spark discussion and innovation in deconstructing the paradox of what it means to be disabled and beautiful. It will be especially interesting for those whose loved ones have some form of disability, or for someone who is a user of an assistive device. I think it’s important that others who also aren’t used to seeing people with disabilities get a different perspective of what it means to be disabled,” concludes Tameka.
There’ll be designated free parking that is reserved for museum visitors. All guests must register their license plate number at the visitor services desk upon arrival. General admission tickets are $5 (free Sundays) and can be purchased upon entry. Everyone is welcome.
There will also be a free reception on Thu 9/29 from 5-7pm. The (dis)ABLED BEAUTY: The Evolution of Beauty, Disability and Ability exhibit runs through 3/12/17.