OMA Award Spotlight - Artists Archives of the Western Reserve 

Recognizing excellence in Ohio museums during Arts and Humanities Month

To help celebrate October as Arts and Humanities Month, and to kick-off the call for nominations for this year's OMA awards, we'll be highlighting our 2022 OMA Award of Achievement winners throughout the month with our OMA Award Spotlight. We are featuring these Award Winner Spotlights during Arts and Humanities Month to help champion the amazing projects, programs and professionals that make Ohio's museum community strong.

The Awards of Achievement are presented to reflect the outstanding quality and caliber of work by Ohio museums and their professionals in two categories: Institutional Achievement Awards and Individual Achievement Awards.

Nominations for these awards are incredibly detailed. This in-depth process helps to illustrate how these institutions and individuals have gone “above and beyond” the normal call of duty to support their institution, serve their public and advance the cause of the museum community.

Each year, the review panel is overwhelmed by the outstanding projects, innovative programming and dedication to our field as exhibited in each of the institutional and individual nominations. Congratulations again to each of our 2022 award winners! 

Today, we'll be featuring our winner for the 2022 award for Best Exhibition under $500,000.

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve - W/O Limits: Art, Chronic Illness, & Disability

“W/O Limits, Art, Chronic Illness, & Disability” showcased the evocative work of nine Ohio artists experiencing disability and/or chronic illness, all of whom identify as Women, BIPOC, or LGBTQ+ - a testament to the diverse populations impacted by these conditions.

Curated by Megan Alves and Mindy Tousley, the exhibition was a rallying cry for greater inclusion within museum spaces and emphasized audience accessibility by including braille text, a wheelchair focused layout, and touchable sculptures for those with sensory sensitivities and visual impairments.

Advocacy and inclusion were powerful currents which flowed throughout the exhibition. Each piece provided a unique window into the world of chronic illness and disability, facilitating change through empathy and fostering understanding.

Maize Arendsee, resident scholar at MANDEM, wrote the following in a letter of support for the exhibit. Please forgive the long quote, but their words are a perfect summary. “I want to start by emphasizing that W/O Limits should not be considered for your award based on misguided pity for disabled artists or communities, nor any thought that displaying the work of disabled artists is a way to encourage the abled community… Such sentiments towards disabled artists have always been a poison to the exhibition and creation of our work, reducing it to a sideshow.

“What makes W/O Limits so deserving of winning is that it did not fall prey to such sentimentality, nor assume that amateurism would be inherent in diversity…As a result, they created a stunning a group show that deserves recognition on its own artistic merits, apart from any perceived social value.

“This exhibit succeeded overwhelmingly in bringing various artistic approaches and thematic ideas into intense dialogue, creating a moving aesthetic experience that was not voyeuristic regarding disability but instead explored the ways in which disabled artists experienced/ expressed embodied reality and artistic integrity.”

Did your museum have a fabulous exhibit that ran during the 2023 season? Be sure to nominate it for the 2023 award for Best Exhibition! Learn more here.

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