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Field Work Notes April 14th

amweiner's picture

Before getting into the exhibition, I would like to reflect on the time spent at CCW this week. We have, over the past months, gotten into a nice rhythm with our participants and teachers at CCW. We know who we sit with, what topics to talk about, what we are working on, and how to (generally) understand each other. In other words, we have worked to find a happy equilibrium where it seems as though everything is comfortable. Looking back, I didn't think I would be able to reach this level of comfort. I remember walking in on the first day in anticipation of some kind of chaos, but was met with mostly happy faces and what seemed to be a well oiled machine. In other words, I have gotten comfortable and come to expect certain things when I go to CCW. However, this week was a bit different.

One participant got a bit physical with another over coming to the table to sit with us. In reaction, the other participant let out a bit of a yell and the whole studio looked over at our table. Instead of sticking to the comfortable topics and questions, I was suddenly met with immense discomfort. The teachers stayed calm and diffused the situation. While the participant was pretty heated for the rest of the time we were there, no other incidents happened. 

I am usually incredibly uncomfortable when it comes to any sort of physicality or violence. This, however, being in the enviornment that it is in, was much different. Should I have diffused the situation earlier? It is even my job to do that? How would I intervene considering how much younger I am then the participants? I have no real answers to these questions and in reality I did absolutely nothing. 

This made me question what our role really is at CCW. It seems to me that we are there to learn. Learn from and with the participants about life, art, and disability. We went in knowing that we are on no moral, physical, artistic, or intellectual high ground in relation to the participants. We don't teach them, they teach us. However, we have developed strong relationships with them and are now a part of the rhythm and harmony of the space. Therefore, when that harmony is threatened, it seems natural to want to maintain it, right? If my inclination to intervene comes from a place that just wants to keep harmony, then it is acceptable for me to act on that? Should I have intervened or tried to diffuse the situation earlier? 


Kristin's picture

I love that you're acknowledging here both the level of comfort and equilibrium you and your group have reached, and also the reality of discomfort and disharmony. It's striking to me that you mention you were reluctant to intervene in part because you're much younger than the participants (striking because of the widespread perception of adults with ID as children). You ask good questions, and I'm not sure there are any right answers. But I can recommend a Nat Chat!