Part 5. Support for Artists with Disabilities
Here is an artwork titled “Hide and Seek Red.” One additional information is that the painter of this artwork is someone with an autistic developmental disorder.
“How could he create such an artwork when he has a disability?”
If this was the first question to pop out of your mind, you might be looking at this artwork with the perception that this is an artwork by a “disabled person,” rather than perceiving it as a work of art as it is.
ISSUE Disability artists face challenges to overcome the barriers of perception and the lack of opportunity.
Artists with disabilities carry on their journeys in life, surpassing the challenges of their bodies. However, they still encounter another high wall to overcome — the “matter of perception.” Many people perceive artworks and artistic activities of disability artists as “arts done by disabled persons,” rather than just “arts.”
Arts done by disabled persons is a term defining the act of artistic creation or expression from someone with physical or mental disabilities. Simply put, the term focuses on the disabilities of the performers instead of the activities themselves. Considering the disabilities of the artists before appreciating the artwork for itself, is the wall of perception that many disability artists face.
※ “Hide and Seek Red” depicts a character covering his eyes with one arm and his friends who are hiding, revealing only their faces. According to the artist’s mother, the artist didn’t have many close friends in his childhood. Then who are the friends hidden in the painting?
Another high wall blocking artists with disabilities is the problem of “opportunity.”
Let’s look into the fifth comprehensive policy plan for people with disabilities, issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2018.
The first to third policy plan (1998~2012) for people with disabilities was mainly about ensuring the equality and rights of the disabled persons. The fourth and fifth (2013~2022) policy plan focuses on relieving the gap between the lives of disabled and non-disabled persons. For this purpose, they include details that assert the importance of providing disabled persons with opportunities in education, culture, and sports sectors.
In reality, many disability artists have difficulties attracting the public’s attention, despite their artistic talents, since they lack opportunities to receive proper education or showcase their artworks. According to the <2018 Examination and Research of the Current Condition of Arts and Culture of Disabled Artists>, about 41 percent of disability artists responded that there weren’t enough opportunities to present their artistic activities. The figure is twice higher than the 20 percent of respondents who said, “It’s enough”.
Not only this, disability artists are struggling with publicity as well.
When asked if works of disability artists needed more publicity, more than 85 percent said it was “necessary,” with half of them deeming publicity “very necessary.” Despite such a dire need for promotion, the survey revealed that more than 60 percent of disability artists don’t have accounts for online artistic activities, such as YouTube, blogs, and other SNS channels. Only three out of ten respondents said that they actually engage in online activities.
Amidst the unsolved challenges of perception and lack of opportunities, a new variable has emerged in our lives today — the Era of New Normal. Will the gap between disability artists and non-disabled artists be narrowed in our reality where untact has become the new normal?
SOLUTION Collaboration + Art = CollaboArtion
POSCO 1% Foundation, a non-profit foundation operated with donations — 1% of the monthly pay — from executives and employees of POSCO Group and its partner companies, has devised a new project this year to support disability artists. The project has two objectives: improving the perception of disability artists is one, and putting disability artists on the map with genuine content and influential channels is another. Thus, the new project of POSCO 1% Foundation, “CollaboArtion,” was born.
The “CollaboArtion” project undertakes two programs. The first is providing opportunities where disability artists can communicate with the public through collaboration videos with celebrities. The second is creating personal storytelling videos of disability artists and promoting their artistic talents, which would present them with better opportunities to participate in artistic activities.
In Britain, where disability arts are well-established, there is a term called “inclusive arts.” It is a form of art where disability artists and non-disabled artists collaborate creatively and interactively. The “CollaboArtion” project is also an inclusive art, providing both disability and non-disabled artists with opportunities to improve their artistic level through unbiased and unrestricted artistic activities and collaborations.
POSCO 1% Foundation invited ten teams of disabled artists with recommendations from the Korea Disabled Artist Association: Boo-Yeol Han (western-style painter, developmental disorder), Hun Lee (one-handed pianist, brain lesion disorder), Hwan Park (western-style painter, visual impairment), Sung-Jin Cho (one-handed magician, brain lesion disorder), Yong-Ho Heo (children’s book author, general paralysis), Moon-Jung Choi & Soo-Min Chae (wheelchair dancers, physical disability), A-Ra Ko (ballerina, auditory disorder), Yae-Na Choi (Pansori, visual impairment), Ji-Yeon Kim (rapper, auditory disorder), and Min-Ju Kim (web novel author, brain lesion disorder).
Each team will create two video contents — one original collaboration video and one impressive storytelling video — with 14 celebrities, including designer Hyeong-Cheol Jan, singer Min-Kyung Kang, and YouTube star Big Marvel. All videos are produced by a professional MCN (Multi-Channel Network) company ‘Treasure Hunter.’ The contents will be released on “POSCO TV, ” POSCO’s YouTube channel, as well as the channels of the influencers.
The first collaboration video featuring Boo-Yeol Han, a drawing artist, designer Hyeong-Cheol Jang, and YouTube star Korea Grandma Mak-Rye Park was uploaded on June 25. Boo-Yeol Han is the painter of the artwork “Hide and Seek Red” seen above and the first Korean autistic live drawing artist. The video features Korea Grandma Mak-Rye Park wearing an outfit, designed by Hyeong-Cheol Jang with the artwork of Boo-Yeol Han. The video, uploaded on POSCO TV, gives a glimpse of the life and works of the artist Boo-Yeol Han. Han’s story is delivered directly from him and his mother, presenting the viewers with deep emotions. Starting with Han’s video, POSCO TV will post these very special videos one by one until October.