Emery Vanderburgh is an intermedia artist and disability advocate. Utilizing a variety of technologies and mediums, her work presents colourful, surreal explorations of the self, disability, new materialism, and queerness. Most recently, she’s been interested in exploring animation and reinterpreting history through digital art.
In 2016, Emery founded Ampuseek, a non-profit initiative aimed to make prosthetic care more accessible in Canada. As part of Ampuseek, Emery was invited to travel and interview key prosthetic manufacturers in Germany and Iceland. Adobe Create and Instagram have featured her commercial work, and her independent and advocacy work has been featured by CBC, CTV, and multiple disability-focused publications.
Medium: two-channel animation, ipads, 8x10 fiberboard frame, acrylic paint
Specimens is a video work that reinterprets and reclaims disabled movement and highlight the medical and therefore dehumanizing lens that bodies deemed “different” are so often viewed through. Inspired by zoological specimen samples in acrylic and shadow boxes, as well as biological illustrations, the work references the dissection and over-analyzation that occur because of the medicalization of the disabled body. The choice of animation, paying homage to vintage silent movies, inserts disability into a cultural record where it’s often been ignored. Together, the piece subverts the way smooth, even motion has been idealized in animation and human movement.
Mushrooms and Institutions (2021)
Medium: one channel animation, laser-cut acrylic, clay, silicone, foam, LED lights.
Mushrooms and Institutions explores how the complicated history of institutionalization in Canada contributes to the current stigma of disabled and mentally ill people. Projections of archival photographs of Longue-Pointe asylum being overtaken by digitally-rendered mushrooms are cast onto an acrylic model of the building and sculpted mushrooms. The video conveys the passage of time through the structural changes at Longue-Pointe. Against that Victorian backdrop, mushrooms stand out as embodiments of interdependence, otherness, and acceptance of life-death cycles.
The work serves as a historical retelling that centers on disabled resilience and provides an opportunity to peek within buildings that were intentionally designed to segregate undesirables from the general public.