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University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) pres.

In Conversation: Disability and Power with Dessa Cosma

Dessa Cosma is a social justice activist and the founding director of Detroit Disability Power, which works to bridge the gap between the disability community and social justice movements. For Cosma, disability is a key part of her identity and of critical importance socially and politically—just like race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. In this informal gallery talk, she will respond to the works of Japanese artist Mari Katayama and reflect upon her experiences and political expression as a disability activist. Mari Katayama uses her disabled body as the subject in her provocative series of works combining photography, sculpture, and textiles. Katayama was born with two fingers on one hand and had both of her legs amputated by the age of nine; she has worn prosthetics ever since. In order to fill a deep gap between her own understanding of self and her physicality in the context of contemporary society’s simplistic categorizations, Katayama began to explore her identity by objectifying her body in her art.   

Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Center for Japanese Studies, the Japan Business Society of Detroit, the Japan Cultural Development, and Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe Endowment. Additional generous support is provided by the Susan and Richard Gutow Endowed Fund, the University of Michigan CEW+ Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, and Women's Studies Department. 

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