Breaking Ground 113 Arts issue (Spring 2023)

*Note: the above flipbook version of the magazine has bonus interactive visual, audio, and video content.

Download a PDF version of Breaking Ground 113 here.

Download a plain text version of Breaking Ground 113 with image descriptions here (Word document).

Click the links below to read individual articles.


Our guidepost, the Developmental Disabilities Act, reminds us that disability is a natural part of the human experience. I believe art and creative expression are foundational ways this principle shows up every day in our lives. Through the arts, we can express the range of our emotions – joy, sadness, wanderlust, curiosity. We use art to connect in a way that is deeply personal to both the artist and the viewer.

This year, we are again honored to dedicate a special issue of our magazine, Breaking Ground, to Tennessee artists and creative writers with disabilities. The pieces in these pages represent so many types of creative expression. We are fortunate to live in a time where movement and sound, such as music and dance, can be shared using technology. You’ll see QR codes within this publication that can take you to experience live performances as well as photos of some of the artists with their work.

All the art submissions this year were truly stellar. We wish we could have published every one of them. A special thanks goes to our Council’s communications committee, who spent hours reviewing and narrowing down the submissions to what you will experience in the following pages. And thank you to our partners, the Tennessee Arts Commission and Borderless Arts Tennessee, who support our state’s artists with disabilities in countless ways.


- Lynette Porter, Deputy Director, TN Council on Developmental Disabilities


Borderless Arts Tennessee is honored to be a partner in the arts issue of Breaking Ground. As you page through this edition, we challenge you to look beyond the surface and take a closer look at the impact the arts have in the lives of those with disabilities.

For many, the arts become their channel to communicate with the world around them. For others, the arts serve as a connection for social engagement with their peers. For some, the arts are a therapeutic method of building muscles or releasing emotions. For a few, the arts have become a means of financial independence.

Regardless of what role the arts are playing, the arts are not serving as the “icing on the cake” but as the ingredient that holds life together and provides that cake with its texture and taste. We hope you enjoy this slice of what the arts are providing to those with disabilities throughout our state.

- Lori Kissinger, Executive Director, Borderless Arts Tennessee


In 2022, though we saw nonprofits starting in-person programming again, we know that virtual programming, which expanded during the pandemic, is here to stay.

Many arts organizations suffered losses in revenues, staff, and the ability to provide programming during the pandemic. To address these losses, one-time federal funds helped more than 150 TN arts nonprofits, including those serving people with disabilities.

Throughout this last year, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has continued its focus on people with disabilities. This includes activities to make sure that:

  • People with disabilities are included in arts programming;
  • People with disabilities are represented as artists; and
  • State arts agencies continue to listen, develop partnerships, and provide education for the advancement of people with disabilities.

As a result of this focus, the Tennessee Arts Commission plans to explore ways we can partner with organizations providing arts programming for people with disabilities.

The world has changed, but the Tennessee Arts Commission's commitment to its partners, like the Council and Borderless Arts Tennessee, continues. We look forward to a bright future in providing arts programming to all Tennesseans.

- Kim Johnson, Director of Arts Access, Tennessee Arts Commission