The Art of Seeing: How to Look at Disability
Being told “Don’t stare!” might be the first memory some of us have of encountering a person with a disability. And in fact, when it comes to disability, our culture has collectively tended to avert its gaze. How do we, as individuals and as a culture, turn around a history where the polite thing was not to look? How do we learn to see the richness and complexity of an individual: A person who prefers cats or maybe dogs, who likes or doesn’t like chocolate, who is so unique as to defy categorization. How do we look, really look, at disability?
Margaret Keller is Executive Director of Community Access to the Arts (CATA), a nonprofit organization that nurtures and celebrates the creativity of 600 people with disabilities across Berkshire County. After completing her doctoral coursework at the University of Chicago, she was lured away from the ivory tower by the nonprofit world, where she discovered her passion for bringing the arts and humanities to wider audiences. As Associate Director of the Chicago Humanities Festival, Margaret led program development for an annual city-wide celebration of art and ideas, working with major thinkers, artists, and cultural organizations. For her work expanding the festival’s audience, she was chosen by the Chicago Tribune as one of the city’s most influential people in the arts in 2001. She has been a grantwriter, founded an alumni magazine focused on cutting-edge humanities research, and managed foundation relations at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and has been on advisory boards for the Chicago History Museum and the Center for Public Intellectuals.