Installations and Exhibitions
Nelly’s Last Act
Nelly’s Last Act views California’s dark history of the institutionalization of developmentally disabled children, women, and men as a backdrop to celebrate the life of one inspiring survivor. The exhibition celebrates Claraty Arts’ first public mural, which tells the story of Nell Claraty, the studio’s namesake and muse. This celebration is juxtaposed with a sobering look at a 70 year history of California’s system of institutionalization, a history that is the backdrop for much of Nell’s life story.
“Consumer”, by Gabby Ledesma, examines the language that we use to describe, categorize, label, and measure people with developmental disabilities, and how a thought process rooted in that language affects people with disabilities and our relationship with them. Consumer provides a rare reflective point of view; offering the artist’s insight as to how she and her peers believe they are perceived by others.
“After Purgatory?” presents the individual and shared experiences of six Claraty artists in today’s disability services system. Through photographic collages the artists recreated a single time or place among many, when they experienced the isolation and loneliness similar to that evoked in Burton Blatt’s and Fred Kaplan’s seminal 1966 photo essay on institutionalization, Christmas in Purgatory.
These introspective arrangements are joined by startlingly revealing portraits of the artists, an homage to Kaplan’s clandestine photographs. The portraits float, isolated from, yet bound to, their scenery, creating a collaboration that examines and describes the modern realities of disabled people. People who, despite being inarguably better off than their institutionalized ancestors, still feel the subtle but dehumanizing isolation of purgatory.