Local artist Sue Clancy donated her most recent art piece, “Heroes’ Journey,” to Washington State University Vancouver. Clancy, who is partially deaf, presented the gift at the “Art and Activism: Create the Change” event on Oct. 4. The Diversity Center and the Salmon Creek Journal hosted the event as part of Disability Awareness Month.
Disability Awareness Month is in full swing at WSU Vancouver. A month traditionally remembered for Halloween, breast cancer awareness and pumpkin spice lattes has shifted focus towards raising awareness regarding disabilities in our community and on campus.
The purpose of “Create the Change” was to invite the community and students to learn more about creating an inclusive environment and recognizing people of all abilities, according to the Diversity Center. Clancy introduced her artwork with a short speech at the Firstenburg Student Commons and shared her story as an artist.
She provided an overview of the characters and the driving factors behind her artwork. Prior to the event, a WSU Vancouver student ambassador gave her a tour of the campus to help her gain a better understanding of the student and campus culture, Clancy said. The tour gave her an idea of what animals she would incorporate in her piece.
“As a Deaf person in a Hearing world I often have to “read between the lines” – observe body language and actions over time to understand a speaker,” Clancy wrote in her blog. “So I decided that I would use animal characters in a wordless fashion and leave it to my viewers to read between the lines.”
Animals representing humans is a common theme in her work. “I began to consider using animal characters in my artwork rather than realistic-looking people so as to be more literary than literal in my depictions of the way I see the world,” Clancy said.
Naturally, she implemented the theme in her WSU Vancouver piece. “There’d be a cougar, a penguin and a squirrel – and who else?” Clancy said, describing her thought process to the audience.
“Heroes’ Journey” features 14 different animals; among them is a mouse in a wheelchair and a mole holding a blind stick. Clancy said she also wanted to draw attention to disabilities that may not be apparent. In her blog she writes about her experience growing up deaf and never seeing art or story depictions of a deaf character. The work also depicts a cougar and a penguin, representing WSU and Clark College mascots, respectively. A squirrel represents the student ambassador, Clancy’s tour guide. The framed 22-by-30 inches of ink, watercolor, acrylic and color pencil can be found in the FSC.
Clancy’s work is accompanied by student submissions to the Salmon Creek Journal that will also be displayed in the FSC throughout Disability Awareness Month. Cecilia Martin unveiled her art pieces “Haunting Grounds,” “Decay” and “Static” with Matthew Swanson’s poems “Little Flower” and “Boy in Blue.”
The “Art & Activism: Create the Change” event was first in the series of different activities throughout October. The Student Diversity Center also hosted “Universal Design for Learning: Applying Practices to Promote Inclusion” last week. The SDC will host “Challenging Ableism: An Intersectional Approach” on Oct. 24 at 4:30 p.m. in the Dengerink Administration Building, room 129.
Any questions regarding Disability Awareness Month can be directed to Diversity Center coordinator Sky Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org