From a young age we're taught not to stare at disabled people. It's rude to stare at anyone, but our irrepressible human curiosity makes it difficult not to take a longer look at anyone or anything that is different. On a recent visit to New Delhi, India, artist Asma Kazmi looked very closely at the city's disabled population not out of rudeness or curiosity, but wonder and admiration. Without having access to advanced prosthetics or wheelchairs, these people rely on their ingenuity to overcome their physical differences, crafting their own replacement limbs from whatever's at hand and building remarkable hand-cranked scooters from discarded bicycle parts. Kazmi interviewed these builders on camera about their creations, but only shows them from the neck up, allowing the focus to remain fixed on the person and not the disability. She also made large-scale photographs of each object in isolation, allowing the viewer to look as long as is necessary to move past simple curiosity and into an appreciation of these utilitarian items as works of art — just as their builders are. An exhibition of Asma Kazmi's work opens with a free public reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, November 13, at Webster University's Cecille R. Hunt Gallery (8342 Big Bend Boulevard; 314-968-7957 or www.websterhuntgallery.blogspot.com). Kazmi's work remains up through Friday, December 18, and the gallery is open Monday through Saturday.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Nov. 13. Continues through Dec. 18, 2009