Rodney Evans's Vision Portraits: A Screening and Discussion on Representations of Disability in Media

Sat, July 25, 2020
6–7 pm

Online, via Zoom

On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Whitney celebrates access and inclusion for people with disabilities with a week-long screening of Rodney Evans's documentary Vision Portraits. On July 25, Evans will participate in a discussion with artist Kayla Hamilton and disability rights activist Judith Heumann about filmic representations of people with disabilities. The discussion will be moderated by Jennie Goldstein, Whitney assistant curator.

Vision Portraits is a deeply personal documentary by award-winning filmmaker Rodney Evans (Brother To Brother) as he explores how his loss of vision may impact his creative future, and what it means to be a blind or visually impaired artist. It’s a celebration of the possibilities of art created by a Manhattan photographer (John Dugdale), a Bronx-based dancer (Kayla Hamilton), a Canadian writer (Ryan Knighton), and the filmmaker himself, each of whom experiences varying degrees of visual impairment. Using archival material alongside new illuminating interviews and observational footage of the artists at work, Evans has created a tantalizing meditation on blindness and creativity, a sensual work that opens our minds to new possibilities.

Rodney Evans is the writer, director, and producer of the feature film Brother To Brother, which won the Special Jury Prize in Drama at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. The film had its European premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and garnered four Independent Spirit Award nominations. His second narrative feature, The Happy Sad, has played at over thirty film festivals throughout the world and had its U.S. theatrical premiere in August 2013 at the IFC Center in NYC and the Sundance Sunset Cinema in Los Angeles. Evans has taught at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Princeton, and Swarthmore. Evans has received funding from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms program, the Creative Capital Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the NY State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the Independent Television Service (ITVS), and Black Public Media (BPM).

Kayla Hamilton is an artist, producer, and educator originally from Texarkana, TX, and now residing in the Bronx, NY. Hamilton earned a BA in Dance from Texas Woman’s University and an MS Ed in Special Education from Hunter College. She is a member of the 2017 Bessie-award winning cast of skeleton architecture or the future of our worlds curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa. Hamilton dances with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances and Gesel Mason Performance Projects, teaches master classes around the United States, and is the recipient of Angela’s Pulse's Dancing While Black 2017 Fellowship. Under the name K. Hamilton Projects, Hamilton self-produces numerous projects, organizes community events, and writes arts-integrated curriculum throughout NYC. When Hamilton is not dancing, she's a special education teacher at  Highbridge Green School who loves to watch Law and Order on Hulu while sipping on peppermint tea.

Judith Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability rights community and a lifelong civil rights advocate. President Obama appointed Heumann as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State, where she served from 2010–17. Prior to this position, she served as the Director for the Department on Disability Services for the District of Columbia, where she was responsible for the Developmental Disability Administration and the Rehabilitation Services Administration. From June 2002–06, Heumann served as the World Bank's first Advisor on Disability and Development. From 1993 to 2001, Heumann served in the Clinton administration as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education. Heumann graduated from Long Island University in Brooklyn in 1969 and received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975.

Major support for Access Programs is provided by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, GRoW @ Annenberg, and The Paul & Karen Levy Family Foundation.

Generous support is provided by the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the Whitney's Education Committee.

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