Finger paints in purple, blue, orange and green.

Artists with disabilities


Artists with disabilities: practices, issues and perspectives related to their support

For several years, institutions that provide care for people with disabilities (intellectual disabilities) have been offering workshops with an artistic vocation. Francis Loser, Barbara Waldis, Sonia Perego and Sophia Voelksen are investigating four such workshops in French- and German-speaking Switzerland as part of an 18-month research project financed by the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland. Do these workshops attempt to ennoble the occupation workshops or do they propose real strategies to support the artists, to favour their recognition and that of their works?

From a sociological point of view, it is the collective action that produces the work of art and not the genius of the artist. Thus, the workshops attended by artists with disabilities can be conceived as one of the “worlds of art” (Becker, 2010) in which many actors collaborate (artists, facilitators, network of actors in the artistic field). Can these workshops, in which artists with intellectual disabilities work, be understood as art worlds in which artists collaborate with socio-cultural and art professionals? Our investigation, which covers a hitherto unexplored field, is conducted in the carefully sampled workshops in order to observe how the actors cooperate and to understand the obstacles and facilitators surrounding the artists’ activities, knowing that the debates about the boundaries the blurring of the lines between social education and art is controversial.

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