Alum Spotlight: Maeve McBride ’20 explores disabilities through art

“Images of Disability” questions artistic representations of disability

by Gianna Totani | 10/21/21 2:00 a.m.

On October 20, the Hood Museum of Art hosted Maeve McBride ’20, recently graduated and former Conroy intern, for the latest installation in the museum’s “Virtual Space for Dialogue” series. During the conference, McBride discussed his curated collection, “Images of Disability,” which examines how artists with and without disabilities have approached the subject. Showcasing pieces dating as far back as 1790, the goal of McBride’s collection is to promote conversations about agency, labeling and representation, according to the event’s promotional material.

McBride, a Dartmouth graduate with a major in anthropology and a minor in religion, is currently a first-year law student at George Washington Law School and said during her speech that she hopes to one day stand up for children with disabilities in schools public. . McBride added that she created her exhibit, titled “Images of Disability,” to spark questions in the minds of observers about how they perceive people with disabilities and how people with disabilities see the world. Specifically, she wanted to initiate reflections on how Dartmouth students see or don’t see people with disabilities on campus.

As an undergraduate student, McBride co-founded Access Dartmouth, an organization dedicated to accessibility, advocacy and campus activism. As a mentoring organization, Access Dartmouth helps ease the transition to Dartmouth for new students with disabilities. The organization’s goal, according to its website, is to create a more supportive environment on campus by forming a strong community of students with disabilities and embracing structural change.

“I was working with Access Dartmouth at the time, and we were really starting to create a conversation on campus about disability, and when I realized the Hood had never done a disability exhibition, I thought it would be really interesting to look at the collection of works at Hood that touch on the issue, ”McBride said.

During the “Space for Dialogue Gallery Talk” webinar, McBride gave a presentation in which she discussed her curatorial process and the motivations behind her interest in disability. She also presented some of the pieces on display in the exhibition. Following McBride’s presentation, Hood Associate Curator of Education Neely McNulty led a question and answer session.

Amelia Kahl ’01, Curator of Academic Programming at Hood, described McBride as very creative, even when the pandemic set in halfway through her internship and continued throughout her senior year.

“[She is] thoughtful and unwavering, with the strength of her beliefs to truly make an impact on student life here in Dartmouth, ”said Kahl.

McNulty noted that McBride was personally invested in the theme of his exhibition and determined to bring it to fruition.

“When interns are given the opportunity to organize an exhibit, students often choose a theme or goal for their exhibit that is in some way personally meaningful to them,” McNulty said. “And in Maeve’s case, thinking about disability and working on that theme and how it’s portrayed in the Hood collection was really something she knew she wanted to work on from day one she started working with us. at Hood. “

Trainee exhibits are usually organized exclusively from the approximately 65,000 exhibits Hood already owns. However, very few of these pieces directly touch on the idea of ​​disability.

“The struggle for the conservation of this [exhibit] was that the disability community is incredibly diverse, ”McBride said. “There are so many types of disabilities that it is difficult to talk about the disability community in a wide range. There are so many different people with so many varied backgrounds that I have worked hard to try to cross that line between [being] inclusive of everyone and also creating targeted exposure without speaking on behalf of people. “

The “Images of disability” collection contains pieces that represent disability as well as pieces by artists themselves disabled.

“I wanted to include the views of people with disabilities as much as possible and not just the views of able-bodied people who look at people with disabilities,” McBride said.

McBride said his favorite piece and the focal point of the brochure for “Images of Disability” is Kwabla and Yaovi Ahotor, a work by South African artist Mikhael Subotzky depicting two blind men on a beach with a looming storm in the background. McBride noted that this is a fairly small image in person, but attracts attention as it appears both men are looking directly at the camera. She said the play also offers insight into how people see or don’t see the blind.

“I mainly chose him because he was so visually impactful,” McBride said.

The exhibition also features a sketch by José Clemente Orozco titled Study of the Hand for Modern Migration of the Mind for the Epic of American Civilization. Orozco, who lost his left hand in a factory accident while making fireworks, made many sketches in preparation for painting the The epic of American civilization in Baker Library While it’s not clear whether Orozco’s accident influenced his focus on hands, according to McBride, the piece offers insight into how artists with disabilities view the object of their disability.

“One of the main messages of the show is that disability is not monolithic,” Kahl said. “Artists see themselves in different ways, and the art they produce speaks or shares different ideas about disability, so the multiplicity of disabilities is a really important theme of the show. “

The first time McBride worked in a museum was when she was Conroy Intern. She said she had always liked going to museums, but had never taken art history classes.

McBride had experience writing about cultural objects while pursuing her major in Anthropology, but was inexperienced in writing about art.

“Anthropology is about the objects we live with, and an art museum is a very different context,” McBride said. “It was really fun and sometimes difficult to somehow change my mindset.”

McBride noted that art is a way for her to question the world around her.

“Walking into a museum gives me the opportunity to think deeply about what the artist thinks, why he does what he does, how it interacts with a larger socio-cultural experience,” said McBride.

“Images of Disability” will be on display in the Gutman Gallery in Hood until December 23. A recording of “Virtual Space for Dialogue Gallery Talk” will be available on Hood’s YouTube channel.


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