2018, Academic Paper

The Image of Disability: Can Art Be A Catalyst For Change?

CAROLINE DOHERTY

This paper seeks to elucidate the bioethical challenges of using art as a tool to redefine society’s understandings and perspectives of disability. Historically, art has molded society’s perception of various bodies from ideal female beauty to male stereotypical masculinity and homosexuality. Yet, scrutiny of the portrayal of people with disabilities through the lenses of art history, bioethics, and disability studies suggests that art has conformed to the medical and social models of disability, instead of the people it portrays. Although some contemporary artists, like Marc Quinn, have attempted to combat these long-standing stereotypes, it is debatable whether they have done so in a way that is unbiased in its representation of the disabled body, or whether they have merely conformed the disabled figure to fit society’s concept of aesthetic worth. This paper examines the complexities of portraying the disabled body in art and, by opening a dialogue with a member of the disabled community, seeks to find a way that art can be used as a tool to change the public’s perception of the disabled.

2nd Place – Academic Papers

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