Art has taught us to fear physical and mental disabilities. Whether a bad movie or a classical painting, ignorant and offensive depictions in art has helped create a culture of misunderstanding. We've been taught to view people with disabilities as abnormal, unable, people to be pitied. And so it's fitting that DisArt uses art as a vehicle to rework cultural notions of what it means to have a disability, to inform and promote acceptance. DisArt is an "international disability arts festival that celebrates, investigates, and honors creativity, disability and identity." Exhibitions, films, dance, and fashion created and performed by the disabled community is put on throughout the festival. The mission is to start conversations, to influence change by displaying art that shows disabled perspectives. 

The latest event by DisArt was Elevate, a fashion show that partnered designers with disabled models to redefine fashion, design, and the human body. Put on at the Site:Lab Rumsey St. Project, the runway was also an ArtPrize entry-an ADA-compliant system of ramps and platforms that connected three different buildings, also called a "platform of discovery". As models walked the runway wearing colorful, innovative pieces by designers from New York all the way to West Michigan, they shared their world with viewers, challenging traditional ideas of beauty and wholeness. While onsite for Rapid Growth Media, I was able to photograph this beautiful night.

Learn more about DisArt on their website

Learn more about Bird + Bird event photography.