Event Category: Opening

Spina Bifida: Front to Back

Spina Bifida promo image

Steve Kean has spina bifida. He is a disabled artist. For the first time in his artistic practice, he is examining how people like him who live with this condition, view themselves and seek to claim their power and beauty.

Body image remains a relevant topic in many different contexts. “Front to Back” focuses on the context of disability. Spina bifida often results in the necessity of using a wheelchair. People look down on those with spina bifida, literally and figuratively. They have historically suffered great indignity, even for the sake of medical education. Being the subject of treatment and learning is an experience many of those with spina bifida share.

“Front to Back” has been a true collaboration between Kean and those he photographs. It is a path to a sense of dignity and control over what happens to those with spina bifida. Audiences for the images in this project will see the people first. People whose lives have meaning and are beautiful.

Exhibiting this work in a public space was the final step and has given Kean and the participants whom he photographs a place and time to show spina bifida as a beautiful part of how they inhabit their bodies and shape their lives.

An educational resource guide for this exhibition is available for download HERE. This resource covers the key themes of the exhibition content and provides dicussion points for gallery and in class sessions. To book a gallery lead session with your class during the exhibition please email galleries@humber.ca (link sends e-mail).

This exhibition is presented by Tangled Arts and sponsored by Humber’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Diversity.

Artist Bio:
Steve Kean is a photographer originally from Sudbury who has been living in Toronto for the past 23 years. He came to photography while in high school where he was failing art class. Kean’s disability made it difficult for him to draw or paint, but he still had a burning need to create art. A camera was the answer for him. Mostly self-taught, Steve has made tens-of-thousands of images over more than thirty years attempting to master his craft.

Much of Kean’s work focuses on how people with disabilities inhabit their bodies and illustrate how their experiences may differ from everyone else. His images challenge the viewer to think about how people with disabilities see and interact with the world they share with able-bodied people. Influenced by the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Weston, Vincenzo Pietropaolo and W. Eugene Smith, Steve seeks to capture the moment(s) that can define his subjects and their place in society.

About Tangled Art + Disability:
Tangled Art + Disability is boldly redefining how the world experiences art and those who create it. We are a not for profit art + disability organization dedicated to connecting professional and emerging artists, the arts community and a diverse public through creative passion and artistic excellence. Our mandate is to support Deaf, Mad and disability-identified artists, to cultivate Deaf, Mad and disability arts in Canada, and to enhance access to the arts for artists and audiences of all abilities.

About Humber’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Diversity:
The Centre’s initiatives integrate the complex and often contradictory ways that socially constructed identities intersect and interlock. As such, initiatives extend beyond binaries such as male/female, black/white, gay/straight, able/disabled to include multiple layers of identity that are experienced simultaneously. This intersectional and integrative approach, grounded in a practice of care, is woven throughout all of the Centre’s services.


By Transit, take the 501 Queen streetcar to Kipling Ave. Or, from Kipling Station, take the 44 Kipling south bus to Humber College.


Own Your Cervix

Own Your Cervix promo poster

Own Your Cervix by Vanessa Dion Fletcher is an interactive installation that uses menstrual blood to physically and metaphorically create a gendered space reflecting on what defines our bodies. In this boundary-pushing show, Dion-Fletcher uses installation and performance to invite us all to think about how our bodies, and the ways we think about our bodies are marked and defined, challenging a medical or anthropological lens.

Textiles, pattern and the athletics of beauty become the backdrop for self-examination in the context of a feminist decolonial discourse.

As part of the exhibition, audiences will be invited to participate in private self-examination sessions, guided by the artist. All persons with or without a cervix are welcome to participate. Materials and instruction will be provided in the privacy of a 30-minute individual appointment.

This exhibition features audio description for all works and will also have multiple tactile pieces. All events associated with this exhibit will be barrier-free and will have ASL interpretation. We request that you help us make this event scent-free. This is a FREE event.

Tangled Art Gallery is located in studio 122 on the main floor of the 401 Richmond Building. The accessible subway stations are at Union Station and Spadina Station. 401 Richmond can also be accessed by Streetcar by taking the 510 Spadina streetcar from Spadina subway station or the 510 Richmond Street stop going north from Union Station, which is intermittently accessible.

Instagram: @tangled_arts
Twitter: @TangledArtsTO
Facebook: @tangledartanddisability

647 725 5064
Tangled Art Gallery (TAG) is dedicated to exhibiting disability art and showcasing the hi