Call for Artistic Responses to “Acrobatics”

Call for artistic responses to “ACROBATICS”
by Persimmon Blackbridge
On now at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery

Tangled Art + Disability and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery are calling for artistic responses to the sculpture exhibition, Acrobatics by Persimmon Blackbridge.

Acrobatics is made up of 6 free standing sculptures using a variety of materials such as wood, scrap metals and bone. The sculptures range from 4 ft – 5 ft tall and explores the concepts of disability and heroism.

Acrobatics is on display at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery from April 29 – May 29, 2016 as part of Tangled Thunder Bay 2016: three days of disability arts programming in the city.

Artists interested in submitted work can identify as part of the disability community or not.


Submitting artistic responses

Artists or artist groups are encouraged to visit Acrobatics and submit an application form detailing your artistic response. All artistic mediums of interpretation/responses are welcome! Submit video, music, visual art, writings, performance and beyond!

The works will then be reviewed and selected submissions will be shared on May 26 at the closing reception of Acrobatics at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery as well as online.

Submission deadline   

Monday May 16, 2016


Complete the application  form and email all submissions to:

Submissions are to be made via email only*


Zoe Gordon

P: 807-632-7522  E:


I’m using acrobatics as a metaphor for day to day life with a disability. For many of us, just getting through the day sometimes requires feats of agility, creativity, balance, strategy, concentration and/or cooperation. The result is mundane: we get out of bed (maybe), we get dressed (maybe), we brush our teeth (maybe) – but the process can be as complex and demanding as a triple somersault on a trapeze. And sometimes we fall.

It takes an acrobat to operate in a world that is not set up to accommodate our particular (dis)abilities. “Jumping through hoops” certainly comes to mind when advocating for inclusion in the face of bureaucratic inertia and lack of imagination. But there’s no applause in this circus. This is when society’s “Oh you’re so heroic” attitude towards people with disabilities does a back flip into “Oh you’re such a pain in the butt”.

Acrobats are seen as daring, graceful and physically perfect. I want to valourize disabled bodies/minds/emotions by presenting us as acrobat-heroes, but in the same breath call into question the social construction of heroes by presenting us in all our awkward human wonder. I want to celebrate the creativity of our day to day acrobatics, but in the same breath critique the systems that force us to fly or fall.

– Persimmon Blackbridge


For the past 40 years, Persimmon Blackbridge has worked as a sculptor, writer, curator an performer, as well as being a fiction editor, cleaning lady and very bad waitress.  Not only is her work informed by disability and queer identity, Persimmon’s works are informed by her time working within an institution. Her works are predicated around breaking barriers to inclusiveness and heteronormativity.

Born in 1951, Blackbridge has been doing critical disability art since the late 1970’s and continues to this very day. This includes four decades of art-making including the ground-breaking and much-reviewed sculptural memoir Still Sane which included collaborator Sheila Gilhooly’s writing about the 3 years she spent in and out of mental hospitals for being a lesbian. That interview was followed by one with the then-head of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, where the reporter forced him into an on-air apology to Sheila for what she had gone through.  She also collaborated on the art show From the Inside Out, which was foundational in winning reparations for residents of Woodlands Institution in 2010.

Persimmon was also 1/3 of the notorious lesbian art collective Kiss & Tell, whose 1990 installation Drawing the Line was singled out by the Oxford Dictionary of Art as the one work that best represents LGBTQ art practice. And whose 1992 performance was called “that abhorrent lesbian show” by then Deputy Premier of Alberta Ken Kowalski and almost cost the Banff Centre its funding, in a massive battle over censorship and queer imagery