What started three years ago in a church basement has now spread out to the center of Portland and the Portland State University community. By pulling in community members, students and faculty, the Disability Pride Art and Culture Festival is focusing on telling stories often untold, and not limiting the avenues in which to do it.
What started three years ago in a church basement has now spread out to the center of Portland and the Portland State University community. By pulling in community members, students and faculty, the Disability Pride Art and Culture Festival is focusing on telling stories often untold, and not limiting the avenues in which to do it. Through dance, writing, poetry and other creative outlets, the festival hopes to bring confidence—or at least a new perspective—to anyone who attends.
“Our theme this year is all about storytelling…based on Eli Clare’s book The Marrow Telling…when we think of storytelling we think of how you tell the story, but there is a whole part of it…what does it take to tell your story,” said festival director Kathy Coleman.
This year’s festival has been split up into performances as well as workshops. Zoomtopia in southeast Portland is this year’s location for the festival’s workshops, which were on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as many performances that are meant to capture the minds and hearts of people who have something to say or something to gain from the experience.
“In general we have the festival so we can create opportunities in Portland,” Coleman said. “So people can see disability art, disabled performers and our allies…because there isn’t a lot happening. I’ll come across people who’ve never heard of the fact that someone in a wheelchair can dance.”
A focus of this year’s festival will be a series of dances and performances called Bone Translations. This performance is meant to show an individual’s story through creativity and new perspectives. With over 15 performers, Bone Translations will hold true to the diversity of people it represents and the trust and confidence they’ve portrayed in telling their stories.
“A lot of it is based on Eli’s poetry, so that is inspiration for a lot of the work,” Coleman said. Coleman also explained that the performance hopes to align with the overall message of telling one’s story and shedding light on diverse perspectives.
Eli Clare, the author of The Marrow Telling, has participated in the festival by leading workshops as well as giving a guest lecture in the Smith Memorial Union on the Portland State campus.
Clare is originally from Southern Oregon, but now resides in Vermont. He will be giving a guest lecture, leading a workshop and performing some of his poetry. Coleman met Clare at a workshop that she was teaching at the University of Michigan. It was there that Clare decided to come to Portland for the festival, where participants have been eager for his contribution to the three-day affair.
Bone Translations hopes to end the Disability Pride Festival with the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to grow and the opportunity to understand. Each of these underlying themes has given the festival annual success and a new sense of pride and contrast between the Portland community and disabilities.