Life is a Circus

Tangled Arts is Challenging Us to Think About Artists in a New Way

The Toronto-based organization shows that disability and artistic expression can be tightly tied together.

The Tangled Art Gallery, showcasing the work of artists with disabilities, was opened in Toronto in 2016, by an organization called Tangled Art + Disability.   

The name itself was inspired by the connection that can exist between people with disabilities and the impulse and ability to create captivating art. In the words of Tangled board member Eliza Chandler, who proposed the name, “a tangle is not a knot – it can be undone or remain happily tangled. Tangles are messy and imperfect, but they are also complex, intricate, organic, even deliberate. Tangles represent what this organization does: we bring together all kinds of people and practices.” 

Tangled Art showcases the work of artists from the disability community. Its artist-in-residence and director also identify as having a disability. The organization’s work is dedicated to expanding the concept of frailty, disability and suffering. Its mission is to support “Disabled, d/Deaf, chronically ill, neurodiverse, k/crip, Mad, sick & spoonie artists; to cultivate Disability Arts in Canada; and to increase opportunities for everyone to participate in the arts.” It does this by: 

  • Developing, showcasing, promoting, and employing Disabled artists; 
  • Creating partnerships and collaborations that increase opportunities for Disabled artists; 
  • Empowering Deaf, Mad, and Disability-identified people to embrace and explore their own creativity; 
  • Publicly showcasing the rich diversity of talent from the Disability Arts community.

As it continues its valuable work in many forms, Tangled demonstrates that creativity and identity are not easily codified, and that talent and genius can come from anywhere.  

Follow them: @tangled_arts 

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