Certified Deaf Interpreter Megan Wetzel (center) poses with students from an American Sign Language for the Arts workshop at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Disabled Artists Creative Cohort

The Disabled Artists Creative Cohort is a newly established paid leadership group of artists and arts professionals who identify as disabled.

The Disabled Artists Creative Cohort is the first of its kind for the Pittsburgh arts community. The seven members will create access-centered programming to support and empower disabled artists of all disciplines in Pittsburgh.

This new cohort, which includes a mix of artists with disabilities and arts professionals who identify as disabled, will also collaborate with and advise the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council in in ways and areas the nonprofit can authentically advocate for, serve as a resource to, and create more equitable opportunities for disability justice within the region's arts sector.

Committee members include: 

Sandra Bacchi is a Brazilian-American visual artist working with photography, video, and glass. Her documentary and conceptual work weaves fiction and truths to tell more open-ended stories about how human beings find common ground. As a passionate neurodiverse individual with dyslexia and ADHD, Sandra believes that when we feel included and seen as who we are, we can thrive in everything we do. She is a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, a Pittsburgh Glass Center board member, and was an artist-in-residence at the 2022-2023 distillery residency program at Brew House Association.

Tess Dally is a queer, disabled, and aging woman. Her work is greatly influenced by 30 years as a clinical social worker, advocate, healer, listener, and patient. Tess is an appointed member of the City of Pittsburgh Task Force on Disabilities and a physically integrated dancer and teaching artist at Attack Theatre. She believes dance is an art that illustrates intersectionality to others within and outside of the disability world. Each piece is an opportunity to reach both those who are familiar with the challenges of disability and those who will view obstacles with fresh eyes.

Khaliah Guenther, also known as Kay Cee, is a Pittsburgh-based visual artist from the Hill District. Her work is primarily based on her late brother, Jeremiah Z. Thompson, who was Autistic. Kay Cee Collection, her business inspired by her brother, features digital images of her paintings on clothing, mugs, throw pillows, posters, and more. Khaliah has appeared at the Three Rivers Art Festival and attends Carlow University for Art: Painting and Drawing. Her goal is to obtain a position in art administration, open her own studio, and provide a creative after-school program for inner city kids.

Sarah Hurd is a classically trained oboist and English hornist who graduated from Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music. She’s currently a year one Artist Diploma student at her alma mater, where she serves as a member of her school’s DEI student subcommittee. As a disability advocate, Sarah gives a voice to the challenges faced by her community as someone carrying the perspective of being currently and permanently visibly disabled, while also carrying the experience of having formerly been abled, permitting her to serve as a bridge between disabled artists and the broader community.

Eli Kurs-Lasky, an Autistic and artistic young adult, is a Pittsburgh-based writer and emerging photographer. Eli fell in love with writing the moment he learned how to hold a pencil. His passion for photography developed when he was gifted a purple-and-yellow camera as a kid. Eli has had a variety of his artwork published and considers art essential to his existence and the way he understands and interacts with the world. Along with his personal lived experience, Eli brings a background in disability advocacy and a familiarity with creating accessible content online. Eli is taking classes to become proficient in American Sign Language.

Asher O’Briant is a social worker turned comedy writer. Early in his career, Asher dedicated his time to working with unstably housed LGBTQ+ identifying youth. After pursuing his screenwriting degree, Asher began writing plays, sketches, and stand-up that bring light to unspoken queer experiences. Today, Asher teaches public speaking and comedy writing at the Arcade Comedy Theater to the Qmnty Center, welcoming all students from all backgrounds to create. Through laughter, Asher spreads awareness and joy. Asher is a loud, proud advocate for producing alternative, inclusive comedy and performance content. He considers himself as much of an activist as an artist, and plans to keep it that way.

River White is a mobility-challenged textile artist from Washington D.C. who has been creating things out of yarn since he was 15. He went to West Virginia University for electrical engineering until the COVID-19 global pandemic made him return home to take care of his family. The pandemic allowed them to realize their desire to raise awareness of disability through art. He is now attending Robert Morris University for UX Design, and hopes to increase accessibility in app and website design while still crocheting in their free time.

For more information on the Disabled Artists Creative Cohort, please email info@pittsburghartscouncil.org.