Kent State Students Capture Resiliency and Purpose with “Dismissed Abilities” Art Exhibit

Kent State University students Alexa Daher and Kristyn Wagner are showcasing their exhibit, “Dismissed Abilities” at The Butler Institute of American Art now through January 3. 

The series of portraits captures the hardships of living with disabilities and thriving despite them.

Daher grew up with Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSH, FSHD) and in high school was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. 

“Because of my FSHD it is difficult to show drastic changes in my emotions. Initially, people around me have a hard time knowing if I am happy, sad, or mad.” Daher said. “I want a way to show the public that I am happy and accepting of my disability, changing the way the media typically portrays people with disabilities.”

Daher wants to crush misconceptions that disabilities all look the same and that people with disabilities cannot live independently, care for or take help from others, be successful, or be disabled without the use of mobility aids.

She chose her best friend, Wagner, to help carry out the idea for this series.

“Since she has been there through my experiences and understands portrait photography, I felt she would be an important part in telling my story,” Daher said. 

Daher took Elizabeth Anne Babb’s Art as a World Phenomenon course last fall at Kent State’s East Liverpool Campus. For a class project, she created photographs of what it is like to live with a disability. Babb thought the project was so strong that it should be shared with more people.

“I was so moved by the imagery and the concept that I asked her if she would like to have an exhibit at The Butler Institute," Babb said. “I approached the curators there and they loved the idea." 

They worked on the show for a year and met every deadline. Babb tutored them and helped them along the way; however, she wants everyone to know how amazing these students are. 

“They need to be commended for the hard work and determination that it took to create this eye-opening exhibition,” said Babb. "Putting together an exhibit is difficult and time-consuming. They've done an incredible job."

Both Mayfield High School graduates, Daher is working toward a Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies degree with a concentration in applied business through Kent State University at Trumbull and minoring in healthcare systems management. Wagner is majoring in visual communications design and minoring in photography.

The Butler Institute of American Art is located at 524 Wick Ave. in Youngstown.

POSTED: Monday, October 18, 2021 - 10:57am
UPDATED: Friday, October 15, 2021 - 10:58am