Rainclamation is a collaborative installation art project that is displayed next to the elevators in Duke and Belk dorms. The art is used to reclaim the space around an elevator from an area of stress and stigma to one of calm and beauty. Thus, while the primary audience of this project is members of the disabled community, it can also serve to remind others of the humanity in disabled experiences by bringing an artistic element into a space otherwise thought of as merely functional. The medium of Rainclamation is wooden panels with melted wax. The abstract wax designs are inspired by the question of “what would rain (or water) look like running through color?”. Thus the design incorporates another level of reclamation, taking rain from a source of significant stress for people with physical disabilities and transforming it into the source of beauty. Also painted on each panel is erasure poetry derived from physical education manuals from the 1950s. The original manuals included letters emphasizing physical fitness as an essential attribute. Our project takes those documents, the false universality of which erases disabled bodies, and erases them, resulting in poignant poetry.
I hope to further explicate the creative process behind this work, as well as review linkages to queer theory. I want to discuss the positionality of the viewer and explore how viewers may bring multiple perspectives to bear in their interaction with this art. I will explain how this project is derivative of my personal experience with, and concerns regarding, disability disclosure in public spaces, and invite others to think about ways they can transform their personal experiences into public art and activism. I want to highlight partnerships at the college, such as my collaboration with fellow student Sarah Gompper, and our work with the College Archives, English department, and RLO.