Through photography, installation, performance, and intervention, I aim to challenge stigma. Stigma is a fear driven two-dimensionality machine- it takes the real experience of real people and squashes it flat, what many of us do to people and issues too difficult to comfortably comprehend. The stigmatized become bite-sized wafers that are more palatable than complex. I hope to complicate what has become flat, to flesh out experience, and to expose what is dismissed.
When faced with vulnerability and difference, we sometimes resort to the simplicity of binary thinking. These binaries include the divisive “us/them” that separates “the well” from “the sick” and “allies” from “enemies,” and “non-disabled” from “disabled.” My work blurs these distinctions as I present my experiences as awkward, estranged, but essentially human, such that perhaps “we” and “they” can be closer than we first imagined.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Gwynneth VanLaven (she/they) is an artist, activist and facilitator whose practice includes multimodal forms, writing, performance, and social engagement. She received her BA from Knox College in Multimodal Language (independent, crossdisciplinary) and MFA from George Mason University, Critical Art Practice (also multimodal study.) Gwynneth taught at George Mason University until relocating to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she now studies at University of Michigan for a Masters of Social Work in Interpersonal Practice and Community Change.
Gwynneth’s visual and written works have been shown in numerous exhibitions and publications nationally and globally, including in The Washington Post and Performance Research, at the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center. She now joins a University of Michigan arts coalition, The Self-Healing & Social Justice Art Collective. Gwynneth also creates and leads for InterPlay and DanceAbility, both accessible and inclusive whole mindbody forms, both drawing on self- and other- inquiry and connection.
© Gwynneth VanLaven