Unruly Salon: Disability Scholars Partner with Artists

UBC Reports Extras | Mar. 19, 2008

The Unruly Salon is a groundbreaking series of disability arts, culture and scholarship, uniquely combining distinguished disability scholars with performing artists with disabilities from a variety of media. It has been generously sponsored by Green College and numerous contributing sponsors, particularly the Faculty of Education with support from the President’s Office, the Vice President of Student Services and the Academic Provost’s Office.

"The Unruly Salon challenges entrenched negative representations of people with disabilities as the subjects of pity, charity, criminality, and as burdensome," says Professor Roman, an Associate Professor of Educational Studies.  "Instead, audiences full to capacity at each Salon are learning that disability scholarship, arts and culture, and people with disabilities are the educators of new spaces of creative learning, dialog and ways of being in the world, opening a ‘third space’ of possibility for dialog between people with disabilities and the non-disabled.

“The Unruly Salon shows all of us that disability is part of us, not apart from us, starting with the goals of global citizenship and Trek 2010 as part of civic discourse," says Roman.

A critical research impact flowing from the Unruly Salon will be Dr. Roman and Catherine Frazee, the Co-Director of the Ryerson Institute for Disability Studies guest editing three international interdisciplinary special issues of the proceedings from the Unruly Salon: The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, The Journal of Inclusive Education and The Review of Disability Studies.

"We look forward to many future years of Unruly Salons and challenge the University community to think about and make a difference to the culture of belonging and meaningful dialog for students, faculty, staff and the everyday public who live with disabilities," says Professor Roman.

Unruly Salon: A Documentary in the Making

A documentary teaser-film is being shot by award-winning NFB film-maker, Thomas Buchan to craft the remarkable stories and capture the socially constituted ‘private’ lives behind the stage performances of the distinguished scholars and artists in the Unruly Salon. The film-maker aims to discover how audiences take the Unruly Salon into their own worlds, following the imaginative gusto and ripple-effects richly stated by invited distinguished scholar, Catherine Frazee on opening night.

"What I’m describing here is not something that happens on stage,” says Catherine Frazee, Co-Director of the Ryerson Disability Studies and Research in Education Program. “[Rather, it is] the making of a perfect storm – a convergence of forces generating effects of untold intensity. For when a thoughtful and engaged audience–a roll-up-your sleeves kind of audience, a discerning, working audience–meets with artists who are uncorked and unruly–artists who make no apologies and who take no prisoners, artists who have something utterly new yet profoundly timeless to say–the encounter will spiral outward in great waves of paradigm-shifting consequence. 

“It’s something that happens in the spaces all around the stage, in the blurring of lines between performer and audience, in the chemistry of curatorial and critical attention, in what each of us will say and do at intermission, over a drink tonight, at the breakfast table tomorrow, at the office on Monday morning. It’s all about what we say in our blogs and at our bridge clubs. The cyclone of disability arts is generated by buzz and the making of a convergences of forces for a perfect storm.”

To read the opening remarks of Catherine Frazee, Co-Director of the Ryerson Institute for Disability Studies, or of President Stephen Toope, or to partake of the upcoming Salons, see: www.unrulysalon.com.