if you look okay, you're okay, 2019
45" x 82" x 16", fabric, embroidery, stuffing
There is an unsaid irony to being a disabled artist. I work and exist in the visual realm. It does not make sense that when I look in the mirror, staring back at me is a seemingly able-bodied, painless, twentysomething-year-old woman sporting funky glasses. I constantly have to ask myself, “if I look okay, am I okay?” The rest of the world thinks so
but I know that the girl staring back at me in the mirror understands that appearance is not reality. We all have to bridge the gap between what is on the outside and what we experience on the inside. For some of us the bridge is a lot larger. Maybe even as large as a giant soft sculpture hand mirror dangling precariously from the ceiling.
Alt Text: In a white room with a grey floor, hangs a large soft sculpture in the shape of a hand mirror. Repeatedly embroidered on the soft sculpture in alternating colors, including red, pink, green, navy, and light blue, is the
phrase "if you look okay, you're okay". Standing in front of the mirror is a girl in a black dress. Her reflection is distorted in the reflective mylar that resides in the center bottom of the sculpture.
Alt Text: On navy fabric, the phrase "if you look okay, you're okay" is repeatedly embroidered in alternating colors including red, pink, green, navy, and light blue.
Having an invisible disability means constantly experiencing the arduous and frustrating process of coming out as disabled. I am sick of having to verbalize my medical history in order to gain a semblance of understanding or accommodation. Instead of verbalizing, I visualize my disability through sculpture. No Longer Invisible is an eighty-one inch long version of my handicap placard made of hand embroidered bubble wrap. The sacrifice of my arthritic hands painfully weaving embroidery floss through bubble wrap for eight hours at a time was worth it. I celebrate and depend on my handicap placard. It serves as a nonverbal coming out label. Yet, it does not disclose my exact disability. This sculpture is my declaration of my identity, my way to disclose an important piece of who I am, my way to represent the fragility of my body and the strength it takes to keep going no matter the pain. Simply put it is my way of coming out.
No Longer Invisible, 2019
33" x 81" x 1", hand embroidery on bubble wrap
Alt Text: 81 in long bubble wrap in the shape of a handicap placard dangles from a low, white ceiling and hovers above a solid grey floor. Bubble wrap is embroidered with royal blue embroidery floss. Embroidery floss outlines all aspects of the placard and includes altered text, "NO LONGER INVISIBLE" and "Permit expires last day of month & year punched But
disability does not."
Alt Text: Royal blue embroidery floss weaves in and out of bubble wrap. The embroidery floss outlines text and iconography that can be found in the center of a handicap placard.
About Libby Evan
Libby Evan is a multimedia artist and sculptor. She is from Albany, NY. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Sam Fox School of Design and Arts with a BFA in Studio Art and a minor in Women Gender and Sexuality Studies in May 2020. Her practice focuses on her experience having an invisible disability and the search to make the invisible visible.