artistic vision

Chella Man invited 13 disabled artists to explore ‘Pure Joy.’ Here’s what they have to say

Chella Man
Chella Man. Photo by MaryV

With more than 471,000 Instagram followers, a young adult book released last year, and a jewelry collaboration with Private Policy, Chella Man continues to defy cultural and societal limitations based on how others perceive his trans, deaf and queer identities. Most recently, the multi-hyphenate has harnessed his network of trailblazers to curate a new art exhibition, “Pure Joy,” on display at New York City’s 1969 Gallery through August 13, 2022.

The group show, featuring 13 emerging and mid-career artists, “acknowledges the persistent tokenization of disabled artists, contradicting this cycle by centering ideologies of pleasure rather than pain,” according to a statement from the gallery. “The show serves as a reclamation and celebration of our humanity.”

Related: Chella Man on how art and chosen family helped him take on depression

Queerty asked some of the artists to describe their connection to “Pure Joy.”

Jerron Herman


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“Pure joy is something farther, and more precious, than happiness. Joy is the fiery affirmation that one is living and living well; that life is worth living at all.”  – Jerron Herman

Emilie Louise Gossiaux

“Pure joy is the unconditional love I feel from my guide dog, and from my partner, to be myself with them, and not feel judged. It also brings me so much joy to be able to give care to another being, and feel cared for in return.” — Emilie Louise Gossiaux

Rebecca Watson Horn

“My painting process is about healing and fostering peaceful mind-states while observing the way language and thoughts exist in the body. If I’m able to be present with this process and get out of my own way, a feeling of joyfulness can naturally occur. So therefore, it felt appropriate to be included in this show.” — Rebecca Watson Horn

Kate Meissner


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“To me, pure joy is embedded in the making of my work as a process of discovery, healing, and expression of experiences navigating the world in my body.” — Kate Meissner

Jezz Chung


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“Pure joy to me as being in a space where I feel seen, heard and celebrated. This exhibit feels like that to me. To be around other disabled artists feels like pure joy.” — Jezz Chung

Shannon Finnegan


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“To me, pure joy means having my needs met and having everyone’s needs met.” — Shannon Finnegan

Robert Andy Coombs

“Pure joy for me is an unabashed exploration of what makes you happy. And I feel that’s what I exude in my work. So not really thinking about the consequences of my work, but rather, just enjoying what I do and what I create.” — Robert Andy Coombs

Christine Sun Kim


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“To be able to make a living off my art.” — Christine Sun Kim



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“Pure joy is launching big dreams in the midst of a mess of a thing knowing that you can do them.” — Tourmaline

Chella Man


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“Pure Joy is this opening tonight, the coming together of community and the ability to relax and look at beautiful art that we created about sometimes joy — but also pain and suffering.” — Chella Man

“Pure Joy” is on exhibit at 1969 Gallery, 39 White Street, New York City, through August 13.

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