March’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Stephanie Plouffe to support her community art show for chronically ill and queer creatives.
“Below the Dirt Art Exhibit aims to provide an accessible space for people who have been mistreated in workplaces or in their own families due to their circumstances or identity,” explains Stephanie. “Unlike a lot of art exhibits and fairs, Below the Dirt doesn’t require the artist to pay a fee to participate. This way, absolutely anyone can take part, no matter their financial situation.”
“I created this art exhibit after experiencing discrimination at my former workplace when I requested accommodations for my chronic illness and had to wait eight months for any action,” Stephanie continues. “By that time, my symptoms had worsened to the point where I could no longer work. I wanted to take part in some of the great art shows this city has to offer, but I couldn’t afford to.”
“I realized that although this experience might be new to me,” says Stephanie, “it sure isn’t new to many other people living with disabilities. So that’s when I knew that there needed to be a way for chronically ill and queer artists to have a chance at selling their art without taking a huge financial risk. I'm a big advocate for giving back to my community, and this was the perfect way for me to do just that.”
Stephanie is an artist and musician who loves understanding why humans behave the way they do. She hosted the first Below the Dirt Art Exhibit last August in her own back yard. On June 30, the second show will be held at Saw Gallery.
Funded by Ottawa, ON (March 2023)