Jules Sherred, photographer and owner of Polaris Creative, is putting together an exhibit that combines two of his greatest passions: food and advocacy for those with disabilities. (Polaris Creative photo)

Kickstarter launches for fully accessible exhibit focused on food

Raising awareness has been Sherred's life's work.

A Cowichan Valley photographer is looking for contributors and raising funds for a new exhibit to raise awareness of food accessibility for disabled communities and to support local food producers.

Photographer and owner of Polaris Creative, as well as Disabled Kitchen and Garden in Duncan, and outspoken disability advocate Jules Sherred has kicked off a crowdfunding initiative and a call for participants to help the initial stages of the Cowichan Valley Disability, Culture and Food Through Art Exhibit, “a unique photography and video exhibit that will help raise awareness to the barriers disabled people face in accessing food and promote advocacy from local producers,” said a press release about the project.

“Many people are unaware of the fact that one in every five Canadians are disabled and the biggest barriers they face surrounds food. Not just in the ability to prepare it, but gaining access to healthy ingredients. These barriers often intersect with other areas of marginalization such as ethnicity, sexuality, and gender identity,” the release explained.

Raising awareness has been Sherred’s life’s work.

“This project is a natural expansion of all the work I’ve been doing to bring awareness of the barriers that disabled people face when accessing such a vital part of life, while also presenting solutions,” he said. “I’m choosing this artform because there is a saying that is true that says, ‘We eat with our eyes, first.’ Photography sells food. Photojournalism pulls people into stories they’d otherwise not notice. Making use of new media increases accessibility for the people who will most benefit from this project.”

The exhibit, slated to run from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2022, will be available both online and in-studio and showcase the food-related stories of at least eight disabled Canadians, eight Canadians from culturally diverse backgrounds, and eight Cowichan Valley food and beverage producers. The exhibit itself will aim to be accessible to all, with images including descriptive text for the visually impaired and video being captioned for deaf and hearing impaired people while also including described video for visually impaired people. The PDF version of the print program will additionally include text narration and image descriptions.

Sherred predicts the exhibit will reach a large audience.

The crowdfunding effort, through Kickstarter, is one of several avenues that Sherred is seeking funding for the exhibit, which is asking for only $20,600 of the project’s entire $331,000 goal. He is currently awaiting grant approval for the Canada Council for the Arts, approaching businesses for sponsoring and advertising opportunities, engaging with community sources, and investing his own money to make the exhibit the best it can be. The income earned through Kickstarter will go towards the first two phases of the project, which includes hiring staff that are members of disabled and marginalized communities, identifying subjects, and conducting interviews to be shown in the exhibit.

Cowichan Valley Citizen