Using Art to Explore Performances of Disability and Care

deadline for submissions: 
August 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Maria Guarino and Iona Murphy/ Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

What is disability? What is care?


Disability Scholar Margaret Price provides the following guidelines for care: 

“It means giving more when one has the ability to do so, and accepting help when that is needed. It does not mean knowing exactly what another’s pain feels like, but it does mean respecting each person’s pain as real and important… [C]are must emerge between subjects considered to be equally valuable... and it must be participatory in nature, that is, developed through the desires and needs of all participants” (2015).

In offering us these parameters for care, Price raises just as many questions. For example: Within a heteronormative imaginary, how can we envision this ideology of care? How are two subjects considered “equally valuable?” What does a “participatory” nature of care look and feel like? 

In her quest to re-think binaries, Chicana feminist and artist Gloria Anzaldúa called for a turn to the imagination, writing that “[n]othing happens in the ‘real’ world unless it first happens in the images in our heads” (2012). Feminist and disability scholar Sami Schalk echoes her call, writing about the power of re-discovered identities in speculative fiction, asking: “What might it mean to imagine disability differently?” (2018).

Through creative spaces, art facilitates unique opportunities for resistance, imagination, and reality outside of what we currently know to be true. By experiencing and inhabiting these spaces, we can imagine possibilities for disability and caretaking that we have not yet known. 

Through writing, poetry, acting, and many other mediums, we have the opportunity to convert the disabled bodymind from being solely what disabled performer Catherine Cole calls a “performer in a script [they] did not write” (2003). We can engage further and sit, stand, walk, seize, lay, etc in these spaces of disability, and ask what care means. We can also ask not only how disabled bodyminds are cared for, but how they care for others. 


This is a call for creative submissions that explore representations of disability and care. Submissions can include, but are not limited to: poetry, art, film etc. What is disability? What is care?