For the past 40 years, San Francisco Bay Area lesbians with disabilities have been at the forefront of political, artistic and cultural change. Despite these significant accomplishments, most of this history has not been documented in any archive and is in danger of being lost. Celebrating Fabulous/Activist Bay Area Lesbians with Disabilities: A 40 Year Retrospective, on view Sept. 18 - Nov. 21, in the Skylight Gallery and the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center at the Main Library, celebrates the contributions of disabled lesbians from the 1970s to the present.
This exhibition and many of its related programs take place at an important time this fall when October honors Disability Awareness Month and the recently enacted Disability History Week in California (ACR 162). San Francisco has proclaimed 2010 as the year of the disabled lesbian.
Featured in the exhibition are photographs, a Memorial Quilt, archival materials and more that demonstrate the innovative contributions by disabled lesbians in the areas of art, dance, politics, civil rights and access.
African American quilt-maker Karen Hampton stitched and burned the images, names and words of a dozen deceased Bay Area disabled lesbians into a multi-layered tribute on hand-dyed fabric. Grounded in the African American story-quilt tradition, Hampton's use of materials and symbols reflects the diaphanous, complex lives of disabled lesbians. Some of the disabled lesbians depicted in the Memorial Quilt include Pat Parker, Margaret Sloan-Hunter, (co-founder of Ms. Magazine) and Paula Gunn Allen.
The exhibition also includes ephemera, such as a Pride Parade access map from 1986 and blueprints for handmade curb-cuts enabling disabled people to traverse the parade without obstruction. These and other contributions were lauded by then-Mayor Frank Jordan for creating innovative access for large-scale events.
One of the first original Wry Crips theatrical scripts from a performance at the Women’s Building will also be on view in the exhibition. Wry Crips Disabled Women’s Theatre was founded by three disabled lesbians; Dr. Laura Rifkin, one of the original founders of Fabled ASP, Judith Smith, who went on to be the artistic director of the Axis Dance Company, and Patty Overland. Wry Crips created a consciousness about disabled women’s lives for 20 years in the Bay Area.
This exhibition comes to the Library from Fabled ASP (Fabulous/Activist Bay Area LEsbians with Disabilities: A Storytelling Project), whose goal is to collect, document, archive and celebrate the Bay Area disabled lesbian movement that originated in San Francisco. As a result of this exhibition, the archives of this organization will be donated to the James C. Hormel Center of the San Francisco Public Library, furthering its commitment to the expansion of its collections and representation of diverse audiences throughout San Francisco.
The exhibition is on view in the Skylight Gallery on the 6th Floor and the Hormel Center on the 3rd Floor at the Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco.
Opening Gala: Celebrating 2010, A Year Honoring Lesbians with Disabilities.
Featured guests include AXIS Dance Company and Wry Crips Disabled Women’s Theatre.
Sept. 22, 6 p.m. Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, Main Library
Women of the Quilt and our Lineages
Artist Karen Hampton discusses the Memorial Quilt she created in memory of the lives of lesbians with disabilities. Artist E.G. Crichton discusses her Lineage Project, which she created in conjunction with the GLBT Historical Society. These living artists give creative expression to their link with archival collections of people who have passed away.
Oct. 7, 6 p.m., Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, Main Library
Writing Our Word, Speaking Our Minds, Telling Our Stories: Readings By and About Lesbians with Disabilities
Featured guests include Elana Dykewomon, Barbara Ruth, Teya Schaffer, Dominika Bednarska, and the Mothertongue Feminist Theater Collective.
Oct. 14, 6 p.m., Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, Main Library
All programs at the Library are free. For more information, please call (415) 557-4277. More information about Fabled Asp is available at fabledasp.com
Note to editors: Images are available and we are happy to facilitate interviews with Fabled Asp representatives.