- Sponsorship -

SiTE: LAB Ramps Up Access


During an ArtPrize field trip last week, senior Katie Bork stopped to talk to Christopher Smit, executive director of DisArt, an effort that aims to connect people who have disabilities to art and promote accessibility.

Katie, who has a genetic disorder that affects her bones, told Smit and Lisa VanArragon, curatorial director for DisArt, that she knows how it feels to have trouble on stairs and with walking long distances. “I just wanted to say how cool this is, because there are people with invisible disabilities,” Katie said. “This brings it all together.”

Katie had just traversed Hybrid Structures, a leveled ramp that connects three structures within SiTE:LAB’s Rumsey St. Project. The ramp offers a way for people with disabilities to more easily view art, while building awareness about disabilities and access issues. “It connects a lot more people to something that would otherwise be challenging,” she said.

Art students met with Smit and VanArragon to talk about DisArt and the ramp as a piece of art in itself. The ramp was conceived in partnership with Smit by artist Alois Kronschlaeger, in collaboration with artist Paul Amenta and architect Ted Lott.

“What we are really hoping is that the ramp and the gallery will help (students) think about issues of access, and who has access to community, to city life, to Grand Rapids itself,” Smit said.

The American Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990, is a civil rights law, but people don’t always realize that, he said.

“Think about who is involved at school and who is not involved. Who is invited to the table?” he said.

Caledonia High School students peer down from the Hybrid Structures ramp at SiTE:Lab
Caledonia High School students peer down from the Hybrid Structures ramp at SiTE:Lab

Ramping Up Access to Art

ArtPrize installations that the ramp provides access to are within SiTE:LAB, a four time winner of the competition’s juried award for best venue. SiTE:LAB has converted an entire city block into a temporary arts district. Numerous unoccupied structures, including a church and rectory, body shop and several residences, as well as vacant lots, provide a setting for installations selected by curator Amenta.

Katie, an illustrator who hopes to enter ArtPrize next year, said she thinks the ramp gives people a new perspective on art and disabilities. She plans to volunteer with DisArt and be part of its events and exhibits.

“I feel like art can be hung up anywhere and ramps can be put on everywhere. I feel like this opens people’s eyes to maybe putting ramps in their own private businesses and putting them in schools and hospitals and things like that.”

Caledonia art teacher Evan Chamberlain said he hopes all students come away thinking more about people with disabilities. “This is just such a cool idea they have here, to bring awareness to ways people are differently abled.”

CONNECT

SiTE:LAB

DisArt Hybrid Gallery

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

LATEST ARTICLES

Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Senior Scouts return to grade school, sprinkling kindness

Four former Dutton Elementary students are using their platform as Girl Scouts to inspire kindness in younger generations of Wildcats...

Major factor in school closings: evidence of virus spread

While the Kent County Health Department is working hard with superintendents to keep schools open, sometimes closing is the best way to mitigate spread...

Sensory splendor

Dutton teachers worked together to prepare lessons with creative twists to accomodate the needs of the kids while following the safety requirements for the 2020 back-to-school plan...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS