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Reflections for Exhibition Catalog--COMMENT HERE

courtney's picture

Hey guys, I thought it would make your job and my job easier if you post your short (or long) reflections and your sentence as a comment to this post. It'll make it easier to have your voices all in one place! Again, feel free to say whatever you want about the class, your experiences with CCW artists, how the readings (or one reading) helped shape your worldview or perspective, how your opinions or ideas about disability have changed over the course of the class or maybe if they haven't, your favorite part of this project, a memory that sticks out in your mind, a part that made you feel uncomfortable (like what we talked about today).... By no means do you have to talk about all of these, but I just wanted to give those of you who might not know where to start at least some questions to prompt your writing. I hope that I can do justice to all of your voices, and the more you give me, the easier it will be for me to find what is most salient for each of us and for all of us. Thanks!


Kristin's picture

Here are some of the words and ideas that came up in tonight's conversation about a title for the exhibition. Some of these ideas will make their way into the catalog text as well as the title. Feel free to add ones that I missed or to develop the ideas further in your comments here if you wish!




Arst & Sciences




Harmonious silence

In cahoots! Making trouble together

Holding a space

Time, temporality, past-present-future, temporary space



kefio05's picture

I personally like "Symbiosis: culturing a community"! 

You never realize how narrow-minded you are until you work with someone who thinks differently than you. For example, I never realized how much anxiety I would get simply watching someone poke a hole into the agar of a petri dish. As a natural science major a part of me cringed on the inside, not comfortable breaking the protocol that science and education had engrained into me. But sure enough, experimenting with the media and working in ways I would consider unconventional proved to be the most captivating in the end. 

Serendip Guest's picture

I like the title Kristen proposed.

This class has made me think about expression. The bacteria we worked with in the bioart labs express pigments, which is what allowed us to use those particular strains to make art. Science isn't typically thought of as a way to express yourself, but is is an area of great creativity, as is art. You must be creative in your experimental design and your troubleshooting just as you must be in art with your composition and technique. In art, this creativity is expression while in science it is-what is it? Artistic expression is a common phrase, often used as a lead-in to communication, whether or not the art was meant to communicate something specific at all. Expression, creativity, and communication are all distinct concepts, but art seems to blur the lines, make the boundaries of these entities a little more blurry, or perhaps jagged, stretching out into one another spaces, just as we found ourselves at CCW and the artists found themselves in Bio200 lab.

lindsey's picture

Disrupt/ disruption: as discussed both in the "Mad at School" intro and the "We need to get uncomfortable" reading, and as utilized in science to describe the process of releasing biochemical molecules from a cell (ie "cell disruption") 

sarah7's picture

Just to play off of Kristen's suggestion, maybe "Culturing a Community: A Symbiosis of Art and Science" … though that could be too long.

Anyways, I feel really thrilled, proud and grateful for how this class and our collaboration with CCW has evolved and continues to grow. I think over the course of my time at Haverford I have started reaching towards disability as this perspective that really complicates and stretches my worldview, in the best way possible. The experiences of this semester have helped turn that reaching into a solid connection by giving me a framework and a confidence with which to further explore what excites me about disability studies, and to convey my interest to others working with totally different interests in totally different fields. I have especially appreciated thinking about science and medicine through the lens of disability studies, both through the CCW collaboration and also through the readings and my midterm project. Science often appears very rigid and formulaic, filled with protocols and lab reports, but working with the artists from CCW and everyone in our class (science and non-science) has brought out the very creative and organic nature that science relies on as well. In the lab, I had very uncomfortable moments when I worried that our project was straying too far from the conventions (sterile technique, trying not to poke through the agar, using too much ethanol) of science and that we were going to end up with empty petri dishes. BUT, that obviously did not happen and I think what did happen is in pushing those boundaries of what I have come to expect in the lab we ended up with some really remarkable, beautiful, gross, interesting and totally unexpected results. 

 I think it's important to also note how my theoretical conceptions of the collaboration with CCW have evolved from the early planning stages last May to our actual experiences this semester. As we've mentioned before, Lindsey and I started thinking about the project in terms of experts - us as experts in science, the artists as experts in art. It was really important to us that everyone involved had a stake in the project and that we fostered feelings of mutual respect and originally the idea of being and expert and sharing your knowledge felt like a good way to start accomplishing that. However, as our role as "experts" in the lab has been challenged and complicated by all the cool ways we have pushed against those scientific boundaries, my thinking has changed. I may feel confident in a certain way of doing science, but I'm certainly not an expert - the idea of being an expert almost implies you have nothing left to learn. I think instead I've come to really grab onto the idea of fostering mutual respect through the idea of holding a space for someone. I feel like everyone involved in this collaboration has done such a great job in offering a space to each other, whether through words or gestures or silence, and that has made all the difference. 

sarah7's picture

My sentence would be:

Throughout this collaboration we have all offered a space to each other, whether through words or gestures or silence, and that has made all the difference. 


banana's picture

First: I really like something with "Culturing a Community."

I really like this quote by Siebers-
 "It is often the presence of disability that allows the beauty of an artwork to endure over time" -Siebers
I've learned and come to understand disability more through class discussions and my time with the CCW artists. When the CCW artists were at Haverford in the labs they were so willing to learn. It just made myself question to myself, "Why wouldn't they want to learn." I just feel that there should be more learning opportunities for people like CCW artists. I was also uncomfortable in the Bio labs when they started puncturing the agar plates...I mean that's not what your supposed to do. It amazes me how much I have constricted myself to the rules/regulations and "normality" over my life time. 
My first time doing art at CCW I was honestly so scared of what people would think of my art. The "beauty" of my art, and how my art would appear to other people. On the opposite end of the spectrum were the CCW artists. Obviously they are professional artists, but they justs seem so free. Similar to what Siebers says about Judith Scott's work. I think what makes the artwork of the CCW participants so amazing is the freedom both to make art from what they do and "change the meaning of objects by inserting them into differnet contexts."

smalina's picture

Just kidding

I really like the idea of using "symbiosis" somehow, I'll keep thinking about how to expand that. 

It's been an incredible experience to visit CCW at the same time as I take an education course called Empowering Learners, and a semester after a course called the Rhetorics of Silence. All of these ideas and ways of thinking integrate so smoothly, with the rhythmic back-and-forth as we shift between environments (HC and CCW), leaning on one another as we take turns feeling comfortable/familiar/confident/natural in each space. Like Sarah and Lindsey, I think about being "experts"--though more often in the context of communication than anything else. As a neurotypical person, I have been trained as an "expert" in the neurotypical world, conversing and trading pleasantries, building up my "social competence" since a young age. When I'm at CCW, working with the artists, I see these rules I have learned as walls to be broken down; they only hinder connection when intermingling with a variety of communication styles. Art, in its wordlessness and multisensory nature, creates a site for connection through silence, a connection that transcends difference. (I think that was my sentence, fyi) My most amazing moments at CCW have been in these moments of silent art-making, when I realize that without any verbal agreements, my partner and I have found a way to work together silently in an essentially symbiotic way, sharing strategies, styles, and speed. There is so, so much to be gained from entering this space and stepping away from all of the rules we impose in the rest of the Western world, emphasizing personal strenghts, collaboration, and natural abilities and preferences, instead of taking a damage-based approach to a community of people with disabilities. I'm so grateful to have been able to visit!

Chewy Charis's picture

Title Selection:

I really like the title Sarah proposed. 


Working at CCW teaches me how to listen.

As someone who has difficulty multitasking, I tend to “hyperfocus” on the task at hand, as the world completely vanishes from my view. So holding a conversation while working on embroidery turns out to be extremely hard for me in the first few weeks, especially since I had difficulty understanding some of the participants to begin with. Therefore, for most of the time, I was very quiet.

However, when I did make a conscious effort to stop myself from working and just talk to people for a period of time, I realize that understanding them is actually very easy. As I focused on their words the same way I would focus on working, meanings started to register and I found myself automatically knowing what to say in response without any effort. Conversations have never been this easy for me.

I think the conversations are easy because both the story-teller and the listener are genuine: the person from CCW really wants to tell me his/her story, and I am curious about his/her life and wants to learn about it. Perhaps this is what conversions should be. Perhaps simple words can clearly convey meanings if both conversationalists really want to get the messages across.

The key that I learn is willingness, the willingness to listen and the willingness to explain. Such willingness in turn depends on belief, the belief that the speaker actually has something valuable to offer and the belief that the listener actually cares about the topic enough to fully concentrate on the words.

I suspect that I had difficulty with conversations in the beginning not only because of multitasking or my accent or people’s enunciation, but also because I tried to half-mindedly listen the way I usually do when people talk to me about things that I didn’t care about, which kills conversations since the connection between the speaker and the listener is broken. Though I learned about concept of disability gain from reading and class, I must have carried with me the belief that they didn’t have much to offer and have seen talking to them as an act to perform rather than a mutually beneficial exchange. Perhaps this realization is the value of experiential learning. This realization enables me to change how I listen, which allows me to begin to see the world from the speaker’s perspective.

Working at CCW gives my world additional dimensions. (R -> R^n -> other worlds? J)


We expand the dimensions of our worlds through conversations as we believe in the value of others. 

mheffern's picture

I like symbiosis as well!

Reflection/Favorite Memory:

I very much enjoyed the partnership with CCW, and I hope that it continues to grow and become more integrated into the Haverford community in coming years. I have never taken an education class, so I have never had a field placement. And, though this was different than a field placement, the experience provided me with a similar weekly routine of stepping away from whatever was occurring on-campus and appreciating being with a group of individuals whose backgrounds and perspectives were wholly different than those of the people whom I interact with everyday at Haverford. I liked getting to know the artists in my group, as well as the Bryn Mawr students (Sula, Nikki, and Natalie) who were in my group. I must say, though, that I was a little afraid on the first day that we visited CCW that no one was going to try to talk to anyone in our group except Natalie—she got some of the most exuberant greetings and hugs from the artists that I have ever seen.

I have class at 11:30 every Wednesday, so I always had to leave early from whatever activity my group was doing. Even though I wish I could have stayed for the entirety of my group’s time with the participants, when CCW visited campus, I would often see them again from afar as I was leaving my class and heading to the Dining Center. Even from a distance, I could always pick Olu out extending his hand to students who walked past him. Every time he did this, he would say, “Hi, I’m Olu—what is your name?” with a voice as firm and genuine as his handshake. I have always appreciated greetings in which people look you in the eye and act as if you are the only person they are focusing attention on in the present moment, and so seeing Olu do this on such a regular, natural basis always made me smile. 


Through sharing space, ideas, and talents with one another in this partnership, every member was engaged, challenged, and exposed to different types of communicating through art.  

lindsey's picture

I really like "harmonious silence" also and feel like that is really powerful language to describe this project... maybe not in the title because all of the culturing community and symbiosis ideas are also awesome, but in a description or something maybe we can include ideas of "harmonious silence".   

Long Reflection:  

            Working with the artists at Center for Creative Works has, by far, been the highlight of my semester and has taught me so much about myself, about teaching and communicating science, and about art.  When we started this project, the framework was really based upon the ideas of “experts” and “learners”.  At Haverford, Haverford/ Bryn Mawr students would be the “experts”, and at CCW, CCW artists would be the “experts”.  Initially, this felt like a really important distinction within our project to create mutual respect and roles for both CCW participants and HC students, but as time went on a more natural and organic relationship developed beyond these roles.  The CCW artists and non-sciencey HC/BMC students were fabulously disruptive in the lab, and the bacterial art was way more wonderful than I could have ever imagined.  They didn’t have the boundaries that I have as a science student who has learned conventional bacterial plating and culturing techniques. On my own plates I carefully drew and traced designs with the bacteria because that felt comfortable to me.  However, on the day of the bioart plate reveal, I was so amazed by the broken agar and contamination on other people’s plates.  While it was sometimes uncomfortable to see how non-scientists interacted with the agar and bacteria in unconventional ways, and I spent a lot of time worrying that no bacteria would grow, disrupting the conventions of microbiology techniques lead to really beautiful art pieces.  The “disruptive” nature of the project- whether it was breaking the conventions of scientific techniques in the lab, or scavenging for different supplies in the studio, or eating jello on salad in the dining center- was crucial to the sorts of relationships and community that formed.  I’ve learned so much from the CCW artists, and I value the progress that we have made going from the “experts” and “learners” language to more fluid relationships and spaces where everyone is valued for what they bring to the table.  

Short reflection:



The “disruptive” nature of the project- whether it was breaking the conventions of scientific techniques in the lab, or scavenging for different supplies in the studio, or eating jello on salad in the dining center- was crucial to the sorts of relationships and community that formed.

Emily Kingsley's picture

CCW Reflection:

One of the most powerful things that I will take away from our partnership with CCW is the lessons these artists have taught me about friendship and relationship building. I have always had a lot of anxiety around building authentic relationships—about living up to the norms that govern friendship and interaction. Working with the CCW artists, though, has been an invitation for me to begin questioning the ways in which I define authenticity, normality, and communication as they relate to friendship. Through my experiences at CCW, I have begun to recognize just how flexible, how creative, and how fluid relationship building can (and should) be. Friendship is not confined by the parameters of verbal communication or small talk. Far more powerful than that, it is an act of intentional presence, of holding space for another in whatever capacity that can be present with you. CCW has taught me that relationships are in themselves ‘creative works’—endeavors in an artistry of community and collaboration.

One sentence Reflection:

Working with CCW has deepened my appreciation for community, for interdependence, for friendship, and for the power of art as a means of communication.

General Reflections:

 “We found it fascinating and useful to push a form to where it breaks down, to see what faces, bodies, narratives, or techniques stress it and pull it out of shape” – Petra Kuppers, Disability Culture and Community Performance, p. 8

This class has opened my eyes to the power of the disability studies perspective. Far more than a set of static ideas and principles, disabilities studies offers us new ways of looking at the world and the people in it. It has challenged me to push beyond my limited framework of normality and to stretch my understanding of justice to account for stories, experiences, and ways of being that before were unfamiliar to me. One of the biggest realizations that I will take away from this course is the idea that a disability studies approach can function as a valuable point of entry into a larger, intersectional social justice movement. Disability studies reminds us to look for the inequalities hidden in plain sight that have become so normalized as to be disregarded. It reminds us to notice (and account for) those perspectives that are ignored, those stories that go untold.