Local arts organization expands initiative to promote artists with disabilities


CHICAGO — A Chicago arts organization is developing an initiative to support and promote artists who are deaf and disabled.

“I call myself a hybrid artist and a multi-artist because I bring a lot of different elements to my work,” said artist Tsehaye Hebert.

Hebert’s work is committed to inclusivity.

“I had a disability related to the disease and ended up being hospitalized for 6 months in isolation. I had a tracheostomy, I couldn’t speak and I was paralyzed and I thought I wouldn’t work anymore ever,” Hebert said.

Hebert returned to work after being in a wheelchair for about a year. In 2020, she was named a Bodys of Work Fellow by Chicago nonprofit 3Arts.

“The idea is to elevate deaf and disabled artists, to elevate the dialogue around disability culture and disability aesthetics and we hope to be a change agent in the field so that when you go to the theater and in a concert hall, the fullness of the human experience is reflected on the stage,” said 3Arts Executive Director Esther Grimm.

Hebert is one of four artists added to the 3Arts Disability Culture Leadership Initiative launched in 2021.

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“We wanted to create a professional development pipeline so that people with disabilities, who want to make their way in the arts and pursue a career in the arts, could actually have a central one-stop resource site where their colleagues could find them and to hire. them is our last hope,” Grimm said.

Hébert is currently finishing the screenplay for his latest project.

“A work loosely titled – Everything I Need to Know About Disability I Learned Being Black – because the intersection of the two has become so important to me in how barriers need to be broken down and dismantled so I can do what I do,” Hébert said.


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