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Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

by Frédéric T. Muckle September 30, 2014 0 comment
Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

Exhibit makes you understand what living with a disability is really like

A big part of the way we live our lives is a question of perspective.  How do you see yourself, the people surrounding you and what you do with what you have? What we call empathy is one of the most beautiful and crucial emotions that human beings are capable of.  Yet, we often forget to think about how other people perceive and live through our world.

See ____ through my eyes tried to palliate to this scarcity of shared understanding. The exhibit organized by Concordia’s Access Centre for Students with Disabilities (ACSD) presented a unique way to get a glimpse into someone else’s way of life. The artists were all Concordia students registered with the ACSD. Together, they created a mosaic of testimonies about how they experience life–probably a little differently than others. Still, messages of hope and determination that were associated with the photos and pieces of art showed that most of them did not let their disabilities define who they are.

The artists presented understandings of their own disabilities. Photo by Frédéric T. Muckle.

What could have been an exhibit about difficulties and differences turned out to be more of an affirmation of one simple fact of life: how you are born and how you grow up to be should not define who you are; the way you see and live your life should.

As Paul Tshuma, one of the artists of the exhibit, explained in a note by his art, “I may be disabled, but my ability to live life to the fullest is not limited.”

Still, various parts of the exhibition showed and described how certain disabilities may affect one’s day-to-day routine.

It may be confusion for some, others may have trouble with daily tasks, and some may be forced to continuously adapt to their illness.

Nonetheless, most of these statements also bring up one very important necessity: one should never be determined by his or her disability.

After all, are we not all subject to bad experiences in our lives? This does not mean that the weight and seriousness of a disability or illness can be lessened by the everyday anxieties of the average John and Jane Doe.  But in the end, it is possible for anybody to overcome a problem with a bit of help and a lot of determination.

To quote artist Christina Tricarico, “you determine your path, not your disability.”

See ____ through my eyes made an attempt of raising awareness by allowing the people concerned by these issues to share what it really is like dealing with a disability or an illness. It successfully achieves its goal.  It also was definitely more creative and enjoyable for the viewer than dry descriptions and numbers explained by people in white blouses. Fortunately, this kind of participatory creative project seems to be a growing trend, according to the ACSD.

The exhibition can also be seen simply as an opportunity for students to express themselves. Painting, photography and writing can allow the artist inside us a way to better understand ourselves. It also can be used as a form of catharsis. It can help us live through difficult moments of our lives. People need ways to deal with reality, and art, in all its forms, can help.

Azalia Shahidi Kaviani successfully described this in the note accompanying her work: “I found deep peace in my heart in art. That is also one of the reasons why I started to paint. When I paint, I feel like flying like a bird in the heavens.”

Let’s be honest, at some point in our lives we all deserve to be able to let go. Especially when you are a living example of courage and determination, just like the talented artists of See ____ through my eyes.

For more information about Concordia’s Access Centre for Students and possible upcoming events, visit the concordia.ca/students/accessibility.

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