Alice Wexler


Ambivalence with severe physical and mental abnormality runs deep in pedagogy, but it is only a reflection of an historical ambivalence in western culture. By analyzing institutionalized behaviors towards, and assumptions about, disability in art and education, I hope to speak to the theme of the journal, which is "(Un)becoming." For at least a century individuals with severe physical disabilities have been derided as freaks, while for two decades of youth counterculture, the same term denoted a rite of passage. Individuals who exhibit their disability professionally want to be called performers or entertainers, while the Mothers of Inventions' first album beckons their fans to "Join the United Mutations." Artists have portrayed the Other in ways that might not be faithful to their reality, while art made by the Other has made its way into the mainstream. Trained artists have made their profession look less becoming by co-opting the raw naiveté of their Outsider counterparts. This paradoxical penetration of boundaries deserves to be heard under the ambiguous rubric of (Un)becoming.


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