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01.06. Crip*—Cripistemology and the Arts

Liza Sylvestre and Christopher Robert Jones (Artists and writers)


Christopher Robert Jones, “PureImagination_Sextet,” 2020, OSB, wood glue, twine, USB drive, media players, computer speakers, violin/vocal rendition. Courtesy of the artist.

[Image description: A sculpture that looks like a pile of yellow violins and speakers installed on the floor of a gallery.]

Crip*—Cripistemology and the Arts is a transdisciplinary initiative housed within the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Crip* is fundamentally a practice-based, experimental collaboration that draws upon points of connection between artistic practice and critical thought—understanding the need to address both how cripistemologies are shaped pedagogically and how they are disseminated publicly.

A cripistemological approach to creative production focuses on how knowledge produced via a Crip/Disabled experience can shape and change the way we approach our respective mediums. Shifting away from essentializing difference and towards strategies that disrupt normative/hierarchical structures and make difference generative—to challenge the ways in which creative/interpretive spaces and strategies are reliant upon ableism. Crip* moves away from the problem-solving approach to disability in the arts and towards a creative methodology that utilizes a Crip* framework as an integral part of art critical discourse and production.

As a pedagogical model, Crip* foregrounds critical engagement with notions of access, embodiment, and representation (guided by principles such as interdependence, open access, generative difference, radical alterity, networks of support and collaboration, Crip temporality, and access ecology) and develops a creative methodology that is founded in the application of critical epistemologies—to facilitate the implementation and development of work (that is directly informed by the aforementioned principles) in the creative praxes of students and experiencers. This lecture will elaborate on the ways in which the Crip* project has developed within, intervened upon, and critically/creatively engaged the academic structure at UIUC as well as through artistic exhibitions and performances.


Christopher Robert Jones & Liza Sylvestre are artists and writers based in Illinois. They are Research Assistant Professors at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign where they co-founded Crip*—Cripistemology and the Arts, a transdisciplinary initiative housed within the College of Fine and Applied Arts. They are also co-founders of Cripping FAA a project designed to disseminate Crip* principals throughout the 11 units in the College of Fine and Applied Arts via co-teaching collaborations with professors in each of those units—to discover and design new, crip-centric approaches to teaching within our college's disciplines. They have exhibited and performed at locations such as Weisman Art Museum, John Hansard Gallery, Gallery 400, Krannert Art Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the List Visual Arts Center at MIT. Their institutional work is supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant, an Arts CO+RE grant from the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation, a Presidential Initiative: Expanding the Impact of the Arts and Humanities, and a Call To Action To Address Racism and Social Injustice Research Program funded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.


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