Cripping Masculinity is a project that I’ve been dreaming about bringing into the world for a long time. As a queer, disabled fashion educator, researcher and activist with low vision, I’m passionate about exploring how disability introduces new design and aesthetic possibilities into fashion. I’m currently the Dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York City, and Associate Professor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Fashion at X University (formerly Ryerson University) in Toronto. My teaching and research centers the intersectional fashion experiences of disabled, fat, trans and queer people and engages them in the design of clothing, fashion media and fashion systems. Whether I’m teaching a fashion class or playing with my dog Apple, I love wearing clothes that sparkle, shine and glow up the world. I graduated from the University of Toronto with an undergraduate degree in Gender Studies and from Cambridge University with a Master’s and PhD in Management.
A PHOTO OF BEN BARRY
I am a design anthropologist, researcher, and educator who strives to combine practice with research. The Cripping Masculinity project brings together my work as a design consultant and university professor with my personal life where I have lived disability from many perspectives on various continents. I am a migrant having lived in seven countries. Currently, I make my home in Edmonton at the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta (Canada) and spend time as an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Architecture and Arts at Hasselt University (Belgium), the School of Design at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Brisbane (Australia), and the College of Fashion and Design at Donghua University (China). Across thirty years designing, researching, and teaching I have produced hundreds of creative and scholarly outcomes including patents, designed products, exhibitions, and films. My work covers topics that brings together Critical Disability Studies with Design Studies and Material Culture often resulting in specialized product design. Notable projects include outdoor winter protective clothing for the seated client, wayfinding interventions for transportation systems for persons who are visually impaired and blind, and congregate living spaces for persons with dementia.
A PHOTO OF MEGAN STRICKFADEN
MA RESEARCH ASSISTANT
As an arts administrator (and academic in training) with an activist’s heart, I’ve approached the Cripping Masculinity project with a singular blend of academic, professional, and lived experience. After graduating from Ryerson with a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Communications, I spent the first few years of my career trying to discover how I could leverage my unique education to enact social change. In late 2016, I joined the team at Tangled Art + Disability, a non-profit arts organization that operates Tangled Art Gallery – Canada’s first access-centred Disability Arts gallery. It was through this work that I discovered how I could pair my lived experience of disability with my creative communications degree to be an agent of meaningful social change. Cripping Masculinity offers my activist heart a radical opportunity to further my endeavours to leverage my lived, academic, and professional experiences to create lasting and meaningful social change.
A PHOTO OF KRISTINA MCMULLIN
PHD RESEARCH ASSISTANT
I am a PhD student in Communication & Culture at Ryerson University and hold a BA in Sociology and Critical Studies in Sexuality from UBC, and an MA in Fashion Studies from Parsons. I have always approached my work with a passion for social justice, advocacy and representation. My previous research centred the voices of transgender and non-binary identified models to uncover the multifaceted experiences of the contemporary global fashion industry. My PhD research expands on the social implications of the representation of disabled folks through fashion media, and explores fashion as a tool for social change.
Through Cripping Masculinity, I hope to engage in the advancement of intersectional disability justice while recognizing my own embodiment limits my ability to understand the lived experiences of others. Through this work, I hope to leverage my academic experience and professional experience in the fashion industry toward meaningful and long-lasting change.
A PHOTO OF PHILIPPA NESBIT
Alexis De Villa
They/ Them Sikato
MA RESEARCH ASSISTANT
I am a queer, mad-identified, second-generation pilipinx immigrant and settler occupying the land of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Blackfoot, Métis, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway / Saulteaux / Anishinaabe, Tsuutʼina, Inuit, and many others. My pronouns are She and They to represent my experiences as a POC woman, while simultaneously rejecting the gender binary. My research and role with Cripping Masculinity is informed by a blend of activism through practice, self-knowing, lived experience, and education. Often operating in the white-space that is academia, my approach to research is that knowledge is not only discovered through the process but collaboratively deconstructed to ensure meaningful and intersectional work.
A PHOTO OF ALEXIS DE VILLA
I am an Austrian-Romanian design student at Ryerson. It is my firm belief that fashion is for everyone, and we all deserve to feel and look our best in the clothing we wear. I want to create clothing that is open and accessible to any size, shape, gender, and style. I’m excited to join the Cripping Masculinity team because I want to further expand my design knowledge, and help brighten the spark of systemic change that is growing in our industry. My clothing has no gender, and the only requirement for wearing something I create, is that you feel amazing in it!
I spend my spare time going roller skating, cooking up a storm in the kitchen, and creating enticing magical adventures for my weekly game of Dungeons & Dragons.
A PHOTO OF JONATHAN DUMITRA
I am a multidisciplinary designer pursuing a graduate degree in Fashion Design and Society at The New School. In my work I seek to explore the nuances of identity and perception in connection to myself and the world at large. I have interests in sustainability and diversity/representation. I am very passionate about what happens when we, as individuals, have the power to create our own reflections in the world.
A PHOTO OF Maddie Hollamon
I am grateful to be working toward my MA in Fashion Studies at Parsons School of Design, where I also completed my BFA. As a queer artist, I feel strongly that fashion can empower every unique individuals and should do so without apology. I am very lucky to be introduced to Cripping Masculinity and contribute my own commitment to the arts and working with others. My personal research is concerned with the body – its sex and gender presentation. I am finishing up my thesis research currently, on the dress practice of male-identifying populations battling eating disorders – specifically anorexia. As with fashion, it is a subject of research historically scrutinized under the gender binary, and largely ignored.
A PHOTO OF Alex Peifer
I am a fashion design student at Ryerson University who is passionate about making clothes that are functional and accessible in addition to aesthetically pleasing. I support this interest by taking courses that focus on Mad studies, human-centred design, disability studies and psychology. Through Cripping Masculinity, I hope to gain new insights into how I can make what I create available and accessible to a broader audience in thoughtful ways that honour the human experience. In my spare time I like to be outside on my longboard, or inside playing games with friends and family.
A PHOTO OF Aris Cinti
Eliza Chandler is an Assistant Professor in the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University. Previous to this role, she was the Artistic Director of Tangled Art + Disability, a disability arts organization in Toronto, Canada. Chandler’s teaching and research bring together disability arts, disability studies, and activism. This includes her co-directorship of Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life, a SSHRC-funded partnership grant dedicated to the cultivation of disability arts in Canada. Chandler sits on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Arts Council and is a practicing curator.
A PHOTO OF ELIZA CHANDLER
PREVIOUS RESEARCH ASSISTANT
I decided to pursue a PhD in Communication & Culture at Ryerson University because I wanted to continue engaging with Mad Studies in Toronto, an emerging field rooted in anti-psychiatry and Mad liberation. I identify as Mad, queer, and Lebanese French-Canadian. During my Master of Arts in Fashion at Ryerson, I began researching how fashion and costume design is a tool of identity-construction on television, and continue to write about this intersection and advocate for systemic shifts. My entry to academe was through a Bachelor of Arts in Art History at the University of Victoria, though at the time I thought I might end up as a journalist through my freelance writing. My role in Cripping Masculinity allows me to expand my understanding of the experiences of Disabled, Deaf, and Mad-identified folks in relation to masculinity and fashion. My own experience of dress has cycled through many eras, from a closeted awkward teenager hiding in oversized plaid and baggy jeans, to long flowy cardigans and skinny jeans, and now to cozy minimal sweaters and drawstring pants. Overall, I’m embracing my journey of learning and unlearning, and making sure that at the end of each day, there’s always time to put on an episode and cuddle with my cat Bramble.
A PHOTO OF MICHEL GHANEM
I, Rana Awadallah, am a 24 year old disabled independent artist. I create art mostly about chronic illness and mental health through digital medium. My mission is to spread awareness of mental health and chronic illness. To let others know that they aren’t alone, to inspire people to embrace their truth, to get people talking about what matters. I am the creator of my own clothing collection on Represent.com, The Metaphysical Collection, which is wearable artwork spreading the same message. You can follow me on Instagram at rana2.0 for more art and to book commissions
A PHOTO OF RANA AWADALLAH
As a Fashion Communication student at Ryerson, my interest in the Cripping Masculinity project stems from a desire to be a part of a team exploring how to create a meaningful system of change. A system with the ability to engage and educate. At Ryerson, I seek out how my chosen mediums of graphic design and illustration can be used to participate in conversations seeking out an equitable industry. My visual arts background fuels all of my work which often explores how gender and the body is perceived and explored in fashion, supplemented with my interest in philosophy. For the past three years I have been an art instructor working with kids and developing an interest in how creativity is perceived and explored. The Cripping Masculinity project provides me with an opportunity to be a part of a team designing a system that can facilitate change within this industry, and contribute to a larger conversation on equitable practices in art and design.
A PHOTO OF AANKSHIKA BHEEM