A Community Arts Panel Discussion with Disability Justice Advocates of Los Angeles

Beyond Baroque in collaboration with the Los Angeles Spoonie Collective is proud to co-host a virtual roundtable discussion with Los Angeles community arts organizations and disability justice advocates. Lexington Sherbin and Naomi Valdivia are working artists in Tierra del Sol and DSTL Arts, respectively. The conversation focuses on the importance of personal storytelling through poetry, spoken word, zine- making, and visual art. We are inviting participants and audiences to collectively envision a liberated future for disabled/chronically ill/mad/neurodivergent folks and identify avenues of healing through narrative medicine and storytelling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The panel discussion is led and curated by Tasha Fierce, Laurent Ash Corralez, System Hatfield, and Bri M. of the Los Angeles Spoonie Collective. CART and ASL Interpretation will be provided.

In addition to this event, join us on Sunday March 20th for The Future Lives in Our Bodies: A Reading & Open Mic. Visit our website for more details on how you can sign up for the open mic!

This event is one of many events taking place during March 2022 in conjunction with the Poetry Coalition, under the collective heading “The Future Lives in our Bodies: Poetry & Disability Justice,” with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for support of Poetry Coalition programming.

A Zoom Link will be sent 24 hours prior to and on the day of the event.


About the panelists

Naomi Valdivia is an artist originally from the South Bay area of Los Angeles County, California, and is the current guest editor of DSTL Art's Aurtistic Zine program. Because there was no standard in her environment that looked normal, out-of-the-box thinking was the baseline for her developing brain. She decided to continue her art education and got a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Meeting her husband in college, graduating, then having 3 kids while maintaining a career in graphic design and illustration, she has been quite busy with very little time to create as much personal art as she had originally planned. She has held positions in various areas in the field, including scientific, biomedical, patent illustration, label and package printing, and publishing. She now resides in the Greater Phoenix area of Arizona, and is excited to work with "Aurtistic Zine" at DSTL Arts as she has only recently discovered that she is on the spectrum. At first, it was scary, but quickly became freeing. Her mission now is to help educate more people about what Autism actually means and includes. To be able to combine her identity as an artist and an Autistic person, a truly Aurtistic individual, is extremely meaningful.

Lexington Sherbin is an artist and writer working out of Sunland Studio Arts. I'm 48 years old now. I wasn't diagnosed with Autism until age 41. I was given different diagnoses and a lot of medications for them. I went to special education schools and was put in hospitals for psyche reasons a lot, starting at age 13. It took a long time to get to the right doctors and specialists that would give me a proper diagnosis, enabling me to start the journey towards understanding my true self. I grew up living mostly in group homes, institutions, and facilities. My family was not very much involved in my life. However, I received care, love, and guidance from others along the way, which I am very grateful for. I am Jewish. This is an extremely important part of who I am. I study Torah, write, paint, sculpt, stone carve, and I love to sing. Growing up, I didn’t think much of myself. I still struggle to love myself after all that I went through and was told in institutions. I continue to work on that. I am still very much misunderstood by people. Autism for most, is much more than a puzzle. I hope to make a difference in changing that by using my writing skills and artwork to express what autism is like from the inside of me.

Tasha Fierce (they/them/the divine feminine) is an infinite being, but also a sick & disabled queer Black femme artist, writer, mystic, educator, facilitator, and transition doula currently residing in the occupied Kizh territory known as Los Angeles. Their critical work has been published in Bitch Magazine, among other outlets. You can learn more about their art at tashafierce.com and their healing work at liberatedtransitions.org.

Laurent Ash Corralez is a transmasculine anarchoqueer community organizer with arthrogryposis living in the Inland Empire. They have been organizing for 18 years and have been a part of various organizations such as Bienestar, Black Lives Matter IE, Los Angeles Queer Resistance, Revolutionary Autonomous Communities LA, and Queer Youth Advocacy Day. Corralez is also a zinester who writes about being disabled, punk, and queer. They believe that all forms of oppression are connected and work with other intersectional queers to promote mutual aid and create safer spaces for marginalized individuals. You can read Laurent’s zines and listen to their spoken word at laurentcorralez.wixsite.com/mysite.

System Hatfield The Hatfield System are a group of individuals sharing a single body. Together, they have shown that even those with many identities that are oppressed can be highly successful. Everyone within the system has worked together to contribute to our communities as librarians, and activists who have worked with many transgender and disability rights groups and projects. The Hatfield system has always loved working, affirming, and helping others and making a difference. Passionate geeks, the system also loves to chat about books, tea, movies, animals, anime and manga, writing, haiku poetry, unusual music, wicca, Chinese medicine, animation, wrestling, and arcades and claw machines, just to name a few of their many passions.

Bri M. (ze/zir) is a Black, Jamaican-American, queer, non-binary, disabled alien-prince from The Bronx. Ze is a political agitator with a fierce desire to change the way disabled people are seen in mass media. Ze is the host, producer, editor and sound engineer of "POWER NOT PITY," a podcast about the lived experiences of disabled people of color. Ze is committed to interjecting disability justice in any conversation ze has and loves to cultivate collaborative energy with writers, artists and storytellers within zir community. Bri was a 2019 Echoing Ida fellow and the 2019 Stitcher Breakthrough Fellow. Ze was a 2019 Werk It! Presenter and was featured at the Afros and Audio Festival in 2020.


About the organizations

The Los Angeles Spoonie Collective is composed of disabled, neurodivergent, and chronically ill LGBTQIA+ community members within the Los Angeles area (Tongva land). We offer virtual and in-person workshops and panel discussions on the intersections of race, gender, and disability, disability justice, feminist theory, and more.

Tierra del Sol is a part of the larger Tierra del Sol Foundation, the Tierra del Sol Gallery exhibits work created in our unique and innovative art studios. For 30 years, Tierra del Sol’s Gallery has propelled countless artists into the world of contemporary art. All sales go directly to supporting the artists as well as Tierra, which provides studio space, career support, and materials for artists to craft their work. Tierra del Sol Foundation is a not-for-profit founded in 1971. We champion inclusion and value for all individuals with disabilities through creative pathways to employment, education, and the arts.

DSTL Arts is a nonprofit arts mentorship organization that inspires, teaches, and hires emerging artists from underserved communities. Our mission is accomplished through the work we do in our Poet/Artist Development Program for emerging artists, ages 16 and older, from historically-marginalized communities; and through our literacy-based arts education programs and publications: Art Block Zine and Aurtistic Zine, biannual art zines featuring the work of emerging artists; and Conchas y Café, a bilingual community writing workshop series for adults.