Institute on Disability and Human Development (IL UCEDD) Employee Participates in Public Art Display

September 17, 2018

Over the summer, the Chicago Lighthouse, a social service organization serving people with blindness, visual impairments, disabilities, and Veterans, in partnership with Huber Financial Advisors, sponsored a public art display in Chicago entitled, "Lighthouses on the Mag Mile". Over 100 artists, more than half who had disabilities, from the community painted 6-foot-tall fiberglass lighthouse sculptures and they were subsequently displayed on Chicago's famous Michigan Ave. from June 19th to August 11th. Overall, the exhibit intended to celebrate access and inclusion for people with disabilities and to probe spectators to ask the question, "How can I be part of access and inclusion for people with disabilities?" Kaitlin Stober, a research specialist at IDHD since November 2017 was one of the 51 artists partaking in the Lighthouse. Her lighthouse prominently features dandelions growing out of worn brick, a metaphor for disability. Kaitlin said, "When I tell people my favorite flower is a dandelion, I'm often corrected. I'm often told, "Dandelions aren't flowers, they're weeds."

Despite similarities to other commercial desirable flowers, these "weeds" are seen as nuisances, they are devalued. "People with disabilities are often viewed as a drain to society and are devalued. Kaitlin adds, "Consider the dandelion as a metaphor; an illumination of the experiences of some persons with disabilities. Persons who have historically been uprooted, discarded, segregated and excluded from society "left to force their way into the consideration of nondisabled peers who dominate a society that equates disability with deficiency and burden, rather than strength and value." Kaitlin hopes that the label of "disabled" can be celebrated rather than devalued and "proudly displayed as art". Lighthouses were then auctioned off to raise money for the Lighthouse.