Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba

Including artists and audiences with disabilities into all facets of the arts community.

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Crip Strength: Art + Body + Mind

Juried art exhibition

Crip Strength: Art + Body + Mind will explore the concept of what is “normal” when it comes to disability. Through art, many artists who are Deaf and/or disabled are questioning assumptions of normality in how the mind and body perform. Deaf and/or disabled artists have much to share and teach the larger art community about access, creative problem solving and adaptation. These concepts have long been necessary for Deaf and/or disabled artists to participate in the larger arts community and have become even more relevant to the larger society as we live through a pandemic that requires us to self-isolate and find creative solutions to reach one another through alternative means. 

Thank you to all our sponsors and funders. Crip Strength was generously funded by:

Logos for the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, TD bank, Assiniboine Credit Union, TD Bank, the Thomas Sill Foundation and the Manitoba Accessibility Fund

An access guide was created to allow for ease of participation. Scroll own on this page below the visual artists exhibition to view the guide.


Recording of Crip Strength: Art + Body + Mind at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights:

Candace Lipischak

Headshot of Candace Lipischak. Candace is an indigenous woman in her 50s with short brown hair mixed with grey. She has bright grey/green eyes and is smiling at the camera. She is wearing bone earrings with orange beads and a black shirt.

Candace Lipischak is a multidisciplinary artist and Métis workshop facilitator. Born and raised on Treaty 1 territory, they are inspired by nature and their French Métis Polish background. Candace’s work is part of various collections, private and corporate, such as TDS Law, Ceridian, as well as the Niverville Community Resource and Recreation Centre. They are also the owner/designer of Fat Daug (short for Father/Daughter), offering unique and organic antler jewelry. 

Artist Statement:

As a visual artist living with MS and PTSD in rural Manitoba, it is important for to me to be able to create from home and at my own pace. 

By incorporating objects recovered from my property such as old tin, it is my way of using what’s on-hand instead of relying on supplies from a store which isn’t always convenient or accessible. Recycling, reducing my carbon footprint, and applying the phrase ‘what can I do with this?’ has expanded my mind in creating art using items that co-existed with nature.

This is a photo of an artwork. A Brown owl in a tree painted with acrylic on recycled tin
Daen l’trou Acrylics on recycled tin, twisted metal. Plywood backing. 12″ x 17″ 2022 AVAILABLE
This is a photo of an artwork. A sunflower in a green field with a blue sky with acrylic on recycled tin.
Standing Tall Acrylics on recycled tin. Plywood backing. 20″ x 23″ 2022 AVAILABLE

Carla Sierra Suarez

This is a photograph of Carla Sierra Suarez. Carla is a Mexican woman in her 20s. She is wearing a white headscarf and a colourful dress with ruffles.

Carla Sierra Suarez is a Mexican artist and visual storyteller based in Tkaronto. Her work is autobiographical in nature and explores her identities as disabled, mentally ill, and neurodivergent.  Carla’s work is vulnerable and brings light to issues that have been often stigmatized. Her practice is a direct reflection of what “normal” means to people like herself. It speaks of our collective truth, our reality, and our lived experiences.

Artist Statement

“Is It Worth It?” follows a 50-day adjustment period of medication where I asked myself every day whether the medication was working, and whether the challenges were worth it. Written in bottles and placed on a medical cabinet are the varying answers.

 “2015-2020” follows the seemingly endless medication changes I had to endure after a psychiatric hospitalization for suicide. Documenting 5 years of changes, struggles, ups, and downs. A raw insight into the challenges we face as Disabled and Mad people when it comes to being medicated and treated.

This is a photograph of a medicine cabinet filled with prescription medication.
“Is It Worth It? 2021 Medical Cabinet, Pill bottles, Paper Labels. 19” x 15” x 4” NFS
this is a photograph of a variety of medication and medication combinations enclosed in resin.
“2015-2020” 2020 Metal, Resin, Polymer Clay Replicas. 8” x 8” NFS

Marie LeBlanc

This is a photograph of Marie LeBlanc. Marie is a white woman with brown hair tied back. She is kneeling and holding out a hand invitingly to the viewer. She is wearing a fancy blue dress and work boots.

Marie LeBlanc is a self-taught multidisciplinary disability artist. Through photography, multimedia projection, short film, performance and wordsmithing she explores themes related to landscape, isolation, beauty, health and nature. Capturing faces, shapes, shadows and reflections with digital and on-camera effects, often superimposing her own reflection, she seeks to embrace the present moment and the ethereal world around her. 

In the winter months, Marie travels to the U.S. desert in a cargo van adapted for safe housing to ease the symptoms of Environmental Sensitivities. LeBlanc has participated in the Making Our Mark II Printmaking Mentorship Program at Martha Street Studio, the Artist In Residency Program at Artbeat Studio and the Art Salon Program at Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba. 

Artist Statement: 

This is a short film by Marie LeBlanc, exploring the effects that Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and other Environmental Illnesses have on sufferers when the illnesses are not acknowledged by the medical community. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Environmental Illness Awareness and Acknowledgement is the winner of the June 2021 Royal Wolf Film Festival Platinum Award for Best Short Documentary. The film won recognition in the film festival circuit from Royal Wolf Film Awards, The Impact DOCS Awards and Accolade Global Film Competition.

Meagan Hoskins

headshot of Meagan Hoskins who is a white woman with curly brown hair. She is wearing square black glasses, a dark green shirt and has dark purple lipstick.

My name is Meagan Hoskins. I’m an artist living here, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and I have a strong passion for human empathy, human rights, and human diversity. My artwork interacts with everyone differently and each piece has its own story to tell. Whether one of joy or peace, loss or fear, or sometimes just one of pure silliness, I’m always try to connect!

Artist Statement

Artificial Intelligence allows me to create almost endlessly all that is in the mind’s eye and beyond it. I’ve never known such an accessible format of creating art. As my health declines, my imagination and contributions to the art world do not need to follow suit! I feel inspired, hopeful, and free! I hope you feel the same.

This is a digital image of the side view of a person from the waist up. Half of the person is white and left side half is red. The top of their head is exploding into a series of smaller pieces and colours
My Invisible Disability 2022 AI Generated Digital Art 8×10 + frame $163
this is a digital image of a person with a disability. They are wearing a grey headscarf and using a cane. Behind them is a chair. This person is slowly fading into the background. The image is all in grey and white except for the brown chair.
The Disappearing Disabled 2022 AI Generated Digital Art Print 8×10 + frame $163

Ryan Smoluk

Photograph of Ryan Smoluk in this art studio. Ryan is a white male in his 30s. He is bald and is wearing a black button up short. Ryan is sitting at his desk with his colourful artwork behind him.

Ryan Smoluk is a powerful self-advocate and a seasoned spokesperson for autism awareness and neurodiversity. 

Ryan’s passion is to create art and works obsessively to do what he loves. Ryan continues to exhibit his artwork in galleries. He has a very unique style that is original to him. His artworks feature multi-layered detail which explores the way that Ryan sees the world. Ryan feels that autism is both a blessing and a curse.

Artist Statement 

In creating this project, I hope to change negative attitudes and to encourage more dialogue. I strive to create art that illustrates unconventional ideas through conventional or well recognized cultural symbols. My inspiration comes from my own life experiences. 

On first impression the viewer will connect with a pleasant memory from childhood, when they played with a toy phone and chatted endlessly into the receiver assuming the world was listening. As the viewer look closer and walks around this sculpture, they will notice the human faces appearing. This piece has now taken on a more macabre sinister feel. The phone cord adds another dimension to this piece. It is made up of a collection of hair cut from people in our community who struggle with their mental health. It represents the frayed ends of sanity.

this is a painting of a toys phone with a smiling face. It is in the corner of a room with the handset off the base. The walls are dirty white with the word “Hello” written over and over. Coming out of the receiver of the telephone is images of mouths and ears
Hello Hello 2012 paper, acrylic, plaster, gesso, pastel, modelling gel 24” x 30” metal frame under glass NFS
This is a large-scale model of a children’s you phone. The phone is white, blue and red with more colours where you select the numbers. The phone has a smiling face.
Hello is Anybody There? 2012 Wood, Styrofoam, gesso gels, metal, donated hair, plastic, acrylic paint 24”x 30”, 17” high NFS

Sacha Kopelow

This is a selfie headshot of artist Sacha Kopelow in her studio. Sacha is a middle-aged white woman, with a shy smile. She wears safety goggles slightly askew, and her long dark blond hair is tied up in a messy bun, some strands falling down over her eyes. Behind her we glimpse some of her drawings and paintings on the white studio wall, a yearly-planner calendar, and a jumble of art supplies.

Sacha was born and raised in rural Manitoba. She holds degrees from University of Winnipeg in International Development and Environmental Studies, and a BFA from NSCAD University. Sacha has worked in social and environmental justice for most of her career and is a practising artist, primarily working in cast glass, metalsmithing, and oil painting. The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Manitoba Arts Council and the Winnipeg Arts Council, and thanks Lorna Kopelow, Ione Thorkelsson, Kevin Friedrich, and Emily Raho for their kind assistance. 

Artist Statement:

 ‘Girl’ is an embodiment of the bravery, uncertainty, and investigative gambling that can be a part of a disabled person’s everyday existence. We navigate life without the benefit of so-called ’normal’ society’s map. We are forced to forge our own paths, tailored to the often-fluctuating capacities of our mind/body. In this way, we can encounter beauty and revelation that would otherwise be overlooked, and we may also grapple with fear, grief, and limitation. ‘Girl’ is cautious and curious, intrepidly examining her reality, living in the moment, experiencing.

This is a cast glass sculpture. The figure is a young girl, crouched tightly on the ground, knees tucked up under her chest.  One arm is extended forward, delicately exploring the feel of the ground in front of her.  Her other hand supports her chin; on her face is a quizzical, slightly concerned expression of intense concentration.  The figure is 27” from fingertip to toes, and cast in a dark amber-coloured glass.
‘Girl’ 2022 Cast glass 27” tip to toe, 56lbs NFS

Susan Aydan Abbott

This is a black and white photograph of Susan Aydan Abbott. Susan is a white woman in her 60s with long blond hair. She is wearing a cheetah print scarf and smiling at the camera.

Susan Aydan Abbott is a multidisciplinary artist. currently living and working in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Holding lived experience with mental illness, homelessness, addiction and abuse, she is a strong vocal advocate for social justice.  Likewise, her art practice most often explores themes pertaining to rape culture and violence against women.

Abbott has shown in solo, group shows locally and nationally as well as attended residencies in Hamilton Ontario (Center3) and Feminist art Collective in Toronto. Her work was spotlighted on Canada Council website in 2018

Artist statement:

‘Ash, ash— 

You poke and stir.

Flesh, bone, there is nothing there’

Sylvia Plath

The situation that inspired this piece was the immediate aftermath of a failed suicide attempt after the death of my youngest daughter.

They gave me charcoal and pumped my stomach.

Unaware of how I seemed, I immediately headed outside the hospital to ask for a smoke, when I was met with the strangest looks. 

Then I noticed my reflection in the massive glass panes.

Art Photograph of Susan Aydan Abbott. She has charcoal dripping from her mouth and nose and around her eyes. Her hair is wild and she is wearing a blanket in the snow while smoking a cigarette.
CRONE 1 30”x30” Digital print 2022
This is an art photograph of Susan Aydan Abbott. She has charcoal running down her mouth and nose and around her eyes. She is standing in the snow in front of an arch with dead vines. She is wearing a hospital blanket, has no shoes and is smoking a cigarette.
CRONE 2 60”x35” Digital print on etched acrylic 2022

Yvette Cenerini

This is a headshot of Yvette Cenerini. Yvette is a Metis woman with white skin and brown curly hair that is tied back. She is wearing glasses and smiling at the viewer.

Yvette Cenerini (née Lagimodière) is a francophone Métis visual artist from Treaty One Territory. Her work in photocollage examines the intricacies of relationships and emotions through a simple aesthetic. Having obtained both a BEd (2001) and a BFA (2010), knowledge-sharing through art in the forms of teaching and community engagement is an important facet of her practice.

Artist Statement:

Paper doll self-portraits help me imagine what moving by own body might feel like. The movable doll helps viewers understand the helplessness I feel in my dependence on others to survive. The intent is to desensitize the public to the sight of a disabled body and to empower them to assume their societal role of caring for others.

This is a photograph of two framed artworks. Each artwork is a paper doll of Yvette Cenerini. The paper dolls have been placed in different positions. The doll on the left shows Yvette on her side while pushing herself up with one hand and the other hand on her hip. The doll of the right is sitting down with one leg stretched out and the other bent with her hand on her knee.
Yvette Cenerini (with the assistance of Erin Josephson-Laidlaw, Erika Lincoln and Diana Thorneycroft) Articulated Paper Doll (poses 1 to 6) 2022 Digital prints on cardstock and embroidery thread on mat board 12’’ x16’’ NFS

Access Guide

To ensure accessibility and ease of access at Crip Strength, an Access Guide has been created which includes information of the venue (Canadian Museum of Human Rights), how to travel to the event, available accessibility accommodation, who to contact for assistance, how to access the event virtually, details about the festival performers and what to expect, glossary of terms, and other pertinent information for those attending the event.

ASL Version of Guide:

Table of Contents:

Introduction and Accessibility Statement

Quick Guide

What is an Arts Festival? What is Crip Strength?

What is a Land Acknowledgment?

Why was the CMHR Selected to host Crip Strength?

How Do I Get There?

What Are Some Accessibility Features?

How to Use Zoom

How to Can I Make Crip Strength Safe and Inclusive?

Who Can I Contact for Assistance?

What are Some Words the Will be Used, A-C

What are Some Words the Will be Used, D-I

What are Some Words the Will be Used, L-N

What are Some Words the Will be Used, P-R

What are Some Words the Will be Used, T-W


Speakers, Emcee Lara Rae

Speakers, Diane Driedger

Speakers, The Hon. Patrica Bovey, FRSA, FCMA

Performers, Adam Schwartz

Performers, Emily Farriage

Performers, Kathy Arnold

Performers, Natalie Sluis and Anne Neudorf

Visual Artists, Candace Lipischak

Visual Artists, Carla Sierra Suarez

Visual Artists, Marie LeBlanc

Visual Artists, Meagan Hoskins

Visual Artists, Ryan Smoluk

Visual Artists, Sacha Kopelow

Visual Artists, Susan Aydan Abbott

Visual Artists, Yvette Cenerini


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