Open Conversations | Saturday 12 December

A virtual panel discussion on accessibility in cultural institutions hosted by Aislinn Thomas


Black and white photo of Aislinn Thomas, a woman with short curly dark hair wearing dark glasses and a white short-sleeved shirt speaking at a microphone in a dark presentation spaceThe next installment of KWAG's Open Conversations series is inspired by A piece of cloth, held taut, a series of experimental visual descriptions commissioned for KWAG’s winter 2020 exhibition, The Myth of Consensus. Artist Aislinn Thomas, in conversation with Brock Richardson, Emily Cook, Kat Germain, and Ramya Amuthan, will discuss the topic of audio description and access within cultural institutions.  

This virtual event will be hosted on Zoom. Please register in advance to participate using the following link: 

ASL interpretation and CART captioning for the event is provided by Canadian Hearing Services with support from the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation

Open Conversations are kindly supported by the Gamble Family

Aislinn Thomas is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes video, performance, sculpture, installation, and text. She culls material from everyday experiences and relationships, creating work that ranges from poignant to absurd--at times straddling both. Many of Aislinn's recent projects respond to access and disability. She works alongside and in the legacy of so many who - out of necessity - treat both as spaces for creative acts.

Recent and upcoming exhibitions include the WRO Media Arts Biennial (Wroclaw, Poland), Flux Factory (Queens, NY), Science Gallery Lab (Detroit, MI), University of Glasgow (Scotland, UK), Tangled Art + Disability (Toronto, ON), The New Gallery (Calgary, AB), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, ON), Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery (Halifax, NS), articule (Montreal, QC), and C Magazine. Commissioned projects include A piece of cloth, held taut, curated by Crystal Mowry for the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery; and A distinct aggregation / A dynamic equivalent / A generous ethic of invention, curated by Jacqueline Bell for the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Aislinn is a white, disabled, cis-gender settler of Ashkenazic and British/Scottish/Welsh descent. She is grateful to live and work in Unama'ki, part of Mi'kma'ki - the ancestral and unceded territory of the Lnu'k covered by the Peace and Friendship treaties. 

Emily Cook is a visual artist, arts educator, and cultural administrator. She is the Education and Accessibility Coordinator at Critical Distance Centre for Curators. She studied printmaking at OCAD and holds and MFA from Louisiana State University. She runs Paperhouse Studio – an experimental studio rooted in paper as the medium – with Flora Shum. Her practice includes book arts, papermaking, printmaking and installation. She sits on the board of Tangled Arts + Disability. As an arts worker with low vision, she is has an interest in disability arts and crip culture. She believes art should be accessible to all. As a founding member of Paperhouse Outreach Collective, she works on arts and cultural initiatives that create meaningful opportunities for underrepresented artists. She lives in Toronto with a lovely roommate and lots of books. 

Kat Germain is an Audio Describer and Relaxed Spaces Specialist, and provides accessibility, consultation and teaching services in both live and recorded contexts. Among numerous professional unions and affiliations, she is also an Access Consultant on the board of the Wee Festival Theatre and Culture for Early Years (ON), as well as Zuppa Theatre’s (NS) production of At This Hour. Kat has described everything from Amputee Aerial Circus Arts, to “Crip” Conferences, to Deaf poetry, to wheelchair basketball. She has consulted on provincial, national, and international levels ensuring accessibility compliance, and sits on the national Described Video Best Practices Committee. Kat is also a teacher of Description skills, and certified teacher who works in intensive support classrooms with kids who are neurodiverse. Kat splits her time between K'jipuktuk/Halifax and Tkaronto/Toronto.

Ramya Amuthan is currently a Host and Producer at Accessible Media Inc (AMI). She works with the live afternoon show team for the daily entertainment and lifestyle audio show called Kelly and Company. Ramya’s work involves meeting fascinating people, hearing their stories, and facilitating conversations that bring out the messages wanting to be told to the disability community around Canada. Ramya is also the Co-creator of Adventures, a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind, based in Toronto, offering and facilitating opportunities for blind and low vision individuals to challenge comfort zones and take part in daring physical activities. Ramya always makes time for hobbies; including singing – for herself and sometimes others, dancing – mostly Brazilian Zouk, and brushing up on her culinary skills.

Brock Richardson is a sports expert and a host of The Neutral Zone on AMI media. Brock’s love for sports began 14 years ago when he became a Boccia competitor. He is a two-time Paralympian previously competing in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012. Following his passion for broadcast, Brock is the station manager for Voices4Ability, an online radio station. In Brock’s spare time he enjoys travelling and country music.

December 12th, 2020 1:30 PM   through   3:00 PM

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