Arts and Disability Forum: Disability as Identity

A flyer with the text Arts & Disability Forum: Disability as Identity, Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 6 - 7 PM CST. The flyer has a background with green arches. In the foreground, there are headshots of the three speakers for the event, Jamie Kalakaru-Mava, Atlas O. Phoenix, and Taja Will.

What does it mean to identify as “disabled”? What about “person with a disability/disabilities”? How does it feel when others ascribe that label to you? What would it mean to claim it?

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council invites you to join the Arts & Disability Forum: Disability as Identity on Wednesday, February 22nd from 6-7pm. MRAC staff will be joined by three local artists, Atlas O. Phoenix, Jamie Kalakaru-Mava, and Taja Will for a virtual discussion exploring how being disabled informs their art, spaces, community, and care. 

This hour-long virtual event is appropriate for arts groups seeking to be more accessible, arts groups serving and/or made up of people with disabilities, and individual artists with disabilities who want to learn strategies from peers to embrace and uplift their own identities. 

You may register for the event at any time, and will immediately receive instructions to access the event. 

Virtual Event Accessibility

The event, held on Zoom in English, will be interpreted into ASL and live captioned, and will be archived on the MRAC YouTube channel for future viewing with edited captions that can be translated into additional languages.

If you would like any modifications to aid your participation in this activity, please indicate requests in the registration form or reach out to Sam at or 651-523-6388.

For complete details about MRAC’s access services and accommodations, please visit Accessibility at MRAC.

About our Speakers: 

Atlas O Phoenix, they/them/theirs, is an award-winning director, writer, producer, and editor who creates films that are personal, powerful, and uninhibited. Additionally, they were an actor and performer for the legendary Dykes Do Drag (2017-2020) and The Naked I series (2018/2020). They are also the cohost of the trans and nonbinary talk show and podcast, Genderful, with Gender Meowster. The show is available on YouTube and anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Jamie Kalakaru-Mava traded the warm beaches of California for the snowy lakes of Minnesota. She found art, community, and more – but it took months for what she found to thaw out completely. 

By day she works with LISC Twin Cities, supporting creative placemaking and accessibility within the Twin Cities cultural districts. By night she’s a visual artist and writer. 

Jamie’s creative work can be seen in murals throughout the Twin Cities metro and her written work has been featured in Pollen, Star Tribune, and Minnesota Women’s Press. Her two books It’s Never Going To Work (2018) and Butterflies and Tall Bikes (2021) are narrative nonfictions featuring Minnesota’s creative communities. Jamie is a 2023 Loft Literary Center Mirror & Windows Fellow.

Taja Will, (they/them) is a non-binary, chronically ill, queer, Latinx (Chilean) adoptee. They are a performer, choreographer, somatic therapist, consultant and Healing Justice practitioner based in Mni Sota Makoce, on the ancestral lands of the Dakota and Anishinaabe. Taja’s approach integrates improvisation, somatic modalities, text and vocals in contemporary performance. Their aesthetic is one of spontaneity, bold choice making, sonic and kinetic partnership and the ability to move in relationship to risk and intimacy. Will’s artistic work explores visceral connections to current socio-cultural realities through a blend of ritual, dense multi-layered worldbuilding and everyday magic.

Taja initiates solo projects and teaching ventures and is a recent recipient of the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, in the dance field, awarded in 2021. Their work has been presented throughout the Twin Cities and across the United States. Including local performances at the Walker Art Center Choreographer’s Evening, the Red Eye Theater’s New Works 4 Weeks, the Radical Recess series, Right Here Showcase and the Candy Box Dance Festival. They were the recipient of a 2018-’19 McKnight Choreography Fellowship, administered by the Cowles Center and funded by The McKnight Foundation. Will has recently received support from the National Association of Latinx Arts & Culture, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

In other forms of healing and community work, Taja maintains a dynamic Healing Justice practice that includes consulting with individuals, organizations, and communities in the context of workshops, conflict mediation, one-on-one somatic healing sessions, nervous system triage, disability justice and access training, board development and organizational cultural competency, and individual coaching on unwinding from white body supremacy culture.

Their training and foundations are in developmental psychotherapy, Body-Mind Centering (™), Energy Medicine, and they are a certified Somatic Attachment Therapy practitioner. Taja values blending approaches to tailor to each client’s desires and needs.

They ground their work in indigenous solidarity and decolonization as a means to undo white and able body supremacy and its pervasive relationship to capitalism. Taja is committed to working for healing and liberation of Black, Indigenous and people of color and radical care work for folks with chronic illness and disabilities.

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