Art et al. is a new inclusive platform that champions neurodiverse artists

Founded earlier this year, Art et al. aims to become a go-to resource for anyone looking to explore work by neurodivergent, intellectually and learning disabled creatives.

Date
16 June 2021
Reading Time
4 minute read

A New Angle is an editorial series that aims to give a platform to creative industry changemakers who make it their mission to disrupt the status quo. Each week we’ll chat to a person or team doing important work in the sector, making it a fairer place, championing vital causes, supporting underrepresented groups and tackling pertinent issues facing creatives everywhere.

In this instalment, we speak to Lisa Slominski, co-founder of Art et al., a new digital platform that provides exposure for neurodiverse artists from across the UK and Australia. Following the realisation that the contemporary art scene was lacking in inclusive representation and programming, Lisa, along with Jennifer Gilbert, Sim Luttin and Arts Project Australia, sought to create a space for such opportunities. Thus Art et al. was born. The platform will commission and present collaborations between artists from supported studios, artist peers and arts professionals. Through its website, readers will be able to engage with critical writing, curatorial projects and, eventually, podcasts, videos and digital residences that feature neurodiverse artists. Below, we chat with Lisa about Art et al.’s plans for the future and the importance of such platforms in widening the art world’s often limiting scope.

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L: Artwork by Alan Constable, courtesy of the artist and Arts Project Australia
R: Work in progress by Cherelle Sappleton and Thom Roberts, courtesy of Art et al.

It’s Nice That: What about the creative industry are you hoping to change and why does it need changing?

Lisa Slominski: Co-founders Jennifer Gilbert, Sim Luttin, Arts Project Australia and I identified a need for more inclusive arts programming and greater exposure to neurodiverse practices in the contemporary art world. Given our collective experience, we saw an opportunity to initiate a platform elevating artists working from supported studios. A supported studio is a creative environment for individuals with specific health or social needs that encourages and supports the different art practices of artists.

INT: What have you built, and how does it tackle these industry issues?

Lisa Slominski: We have built and are cultivating Art et al. an inclusive, international curatorial platform. Art et al. commissions and presents collaborations between artists from supported studios, artist peers, and arts professionals. With new original content released monthly, it includes critical writing on neurodivergent, intellectually and learning disabled artists by esteemed writers; curatorial projects in partnership with renowned art collections, as well as facilitating international collaborations between artists. Art et al. will expand with further multi-media approaches – producing podcasts, videos, and digital residencies all led by or featuring neurodiverse artists.

Art et al. also serves as an evolving resource for understanding supported studios, exploring contemporary neurodivergent, intellectually and learning disabled artists, as well as informing others about inclusive and accessible curatorial practices.

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Samraing Chea: When teenage boys wander out through the forest at night, the wolves bite them and scratches their bodies (Copyright © Samraing Chea, 2017)
Courtesy of the artist and Arts Project Australia

INT: What other organisations are out there like yours, and what sets yours apart?

Lisa Slominski: There is an incredible global network of supported studios, and an important legacy of organisations advocating about disability. Art et al. is distinct through its position as an international collaborative, curatorial and commissioning platform. We focus on innovative creative projects – writing, collaboration, curating – to further the dialogue between neurodiverse artists and the contemporary arts sector.

Art et al. is also dedicated to creating a platform that is inviting for a range of artists and broader access needs. This includes a YouAccess widget allowing for a change in text size, colour and form; downloadable Easy Reads; BSL interpretation; audio translations, video captioning and FAQs to assist in explaining any language that may be difficult to understand.

We also recognise and respect everyone’s individuality and that people self-identify in different ways. Across our platform and social media, we use language that the artists we work with have chosen to use – reflecting different cultural traditions.

INT: What are the major challenges you’re facing?

Lisa Slominski: A major challenge for Art et al. is gaining sufficient exposure to make a positive and lasting impact on diversity in contemporary art. Our hope is that as the platform develops it becomes a globally recognised platform to access, explore and amplify neurodiverse artists in the global creative industry. And of course, securing ongoing funding to realise more ambitious projects and to become a sustainable organisation will always be at the forefront of our concerns.

INT: What can the creative industry do to support your mission?

Lisa Slominski: Engage with the Art et al. platform! The creative industry can learn about the practices of neurodivergent, intellectually and learning disabled artists, and curatorial inclusivity, then – and this is key – activate this into their own professional practices.

The Art et al. platform also has a growing page featuring a selection of supported studios from the UK and Australia (expanding to other countries 2022). We urge the creative industry to visit these sites too, as well as, if and when we reach post-Covid normalcy, schedule a studio visit too!

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Ugo Rondinone: Sunrise. West. (Copyright © Ugo Rondinone, 2004)
Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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About the Author

Daniel Milroy Maher

Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.

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