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DEBRA KEENAHAN - BEING DIFFERENT

Hopper Gallery
30 April - 24 July 2022

Debra Keenahan’s solo exhibition BEING DIFFERENT invites viewers to see, feel, hear and think about the physical and social world from the perspective of a person with dwarfism.

“Dwarves are still the butt of jokes. It’s one of the last bastions of acceptable prejudice” Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones).

This quote from the lived experience of an internationally renowned actor reflects the purpose of this project - to address this age-old prejudice.

BEING DIFFERENT is a creative happening which presents multiple artworks across a variety of mediums - photography, sculpture, performance, VR, sound-art and workshops. It draws upon the lived experience of the principal artist and encourages understanding of the critical social model of disability as reflected in Debra’s comment - “My dwarfism doesn’t disable me. What disables me are people’s attitudes to my dwarfism”.

Presented in a variety of artworks that engage the spectrum of participants’ senses, BEING DIFFERENT invites immersion into Debra’s world in which the viewer will see, hear and experience the physical and social environment from a different point of view. This creative happening provokes reflective social critique on the blasé ill-treatment of people with dwarfism but also constructively reveals strategies of stigma management which show that ultimately it is the dignity in the acceptance of self and respect for differences that carries the day.

ABOUT DEBRA

Debra Keenahan is a visual artist, psychologist, academic and author. Her achondroplasia dwarfism informs her art and academic work. In her art practice Debra uses multiple media to represent Disability Aesthetics. Her artwork aims to give audiences an immersive experience, encouraging alternative perspective-taking to both physical and social environments. Her practice spans performance, sculpture, VR and Video.

Debra’s work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, UNSW Galleries and other regional galleries in both group and solo exhibitions. Her performance works have been presented at both NSW and QLD Festivals. Debra is also the sole and co-author of a book, book chapters, articles and conference papers. Currently, Debra lectures at Western Sydney University in Humanitarian and Development Studies. Her first PhD was in psychology at Wollongong and Oxford University, examining the social phenomenon of Dehumanization.

She recently completed her second PhD in visual arts at UNSW Art & Design, extending and redefining Disability Aesthetics.

Read more about Debra's work here  https://debrakeenahan.com.au