IN CORPORE SANO: Creative Practice and the Challenged* Body: a transdisciplinary collection and conversation by, on, and for bodies-against-within-despite.
* Web series launches today (!), with weekly posts every Wednesday.
Today, we welcome the first iteration of a project that has evolved through our own/its own challenges into a set of tools for sustaining creative practice in bodies whose conditional needs and capabilities inform the very process of making art.
In a culture that has yet to come to grips with its deeply entrenched ableism, the body that is seen as defying “norms,” as other-than, or as less-than — whether it is disabled, injured, in pain, obese, dysphoric, pregnant/post-partum, elderly, or existing anywhere else under our wide umbrella of “challenged” — is often forced into silence.
This silencing takes shape in many systemic ways. Access to physical or artistic spaces may be denied, conventional tools or formats may not accommodate physical needs, or the basic financial security and social support networks that smooth the way to the making of art may be out of reach. Or the stigma surrounding making art while seen as “other” may simply be overwhelming to navigate. Add to this the physical and psychological obstacles of creating while the body is in pain or otherwise affected, and what emerges is a tangle of narrowings and restrictions.
But the constraints of this tangle can be worked with, or around, or against — the body-challenged individual may engage with creative practice through the lens of body in a way that broadens instead of/despite this narrowing, and opens new paths instead of/despite those that are closed. In the In Corpore Sano series and forthcoming anthology, our contributors (and future contributors — perhaps you?) have done it. Across disciplines and practices, they’ve dug deep into our titular question and its relatives — why should it be that only in corpore sano, in a visually healthy body, is the mind’s work valued, given that an aware, worked-with body that does not read as “healthy” may in fact be closer to health? How does body inform the structure and content of creative practice? In what ways does the artistic process shift under new somatic needs and realities ?
The remarkable contributors to the In Corpore Sano project work in disciplines from poetry and creative nonfiction to dance and performance, illustration, embroidery, sculpture, and more, some intersecting across several of these. Not only have they shared their work and their personal insights into the practices behind it, they’ve also drawn from their own processes to build what is essentially a toolkit for others in the body-challenged community seeking to interrogate or widen their own creative processes. Prompts beckon the reader to explore new ways of creating. Resource lists document media, organizations, and other sources for support and inspiration. Ephemera catalog the incremental journey of making and the necessary stops (for medical care or even for the daily necessities of living in a body) along the way. In some cases, audio has been provided to render written language more accessible.
The In Corpore Sano web series will offer excerpts of these materials from each contributor, one by one, every Wednesday, providing a taste of the breadth and richness of the materials gathered for this project. And, the forthcoming In Corpore Sano print:document — to be published this spring — will be the first in a series of printed matter connected to this project, and will include even more art, writing, interdisciplinary work, and essential backmatter. (Preorder now for $10 off the publication price!)
We’ll launch the web series later today with visual work and thoughts on creative practice from Lia Pas, a multidisciplinary artist whose embroidery engages with gender, body, and autoimmune disease. Stay tuned for upcoming work by Jill Khoury, Stephanie Heit, and many more innovative artists, writers and organizations troubling the intersection of body and creative practice. (And rolling submissions for the project are once again open if you’d like to be a part of ICS yourself.)
This project would not exist without the vision, work, and energy of managing editor and lead facilitator Elæ [Lynne DeSilva-Johnson], originator of this project’s concept three years ago and overseer of its long evolution into its current form. I’m grateful to have been invited by them to help shepherd this iteration of In Corpore Sano into the world.
Thank you for reading — we’re grateful for your support of this vital project and all of its phenomenal contributors.