SHAQE KALAJ

The Potential Project

2015 and Ongoing

The Potential Project is an initiative to alter the public’s perceptions about disability and human potential while also documenting those perceptions. The public’s limited views about people with disabilities are among the most difficult biases that a person with a disability endures. Views of disability are often associated with what a person can’t do. The goal of the project is to rethink how we view personal limitations and promote new viewpoints of how to view exceptional abilities. By tearing down limiting views of disability, we regain an inherent potential that lies behind disabilities. So finding hidden potential and ways to access it is the root of this project. By keeping this to a broad audience, (pedestrians in Northampton) no group of people is singled out, thus making it truly inclusionary. Anyone can participate and explore one’s potential, while also deconstructing the view that people with disabilities are limited.

The downtown area of Northampton, Massachusetts, will be the stage where this project develops, forms and extends. Part 1 (in the summer) uses persuasive signage to invite pedestrians to freely participate in drawing the Northampton Main Street cityscape using their foot, eliciting humor, self-expression and skill building. Participants will be led through “foot drawing” while awakening hidden potential. Part 2 (in the fall) invites pedestrians on Main Street to dialog with me, a certified creativity coach, about their creative history, meaning-making and dreams. The dialog invokes a therapeutic process that awakens creative potential.

In June of 2011 the project was initially developed in Northville, Michigan, where I drew buildings with my foot on Main Street. The project attracted large audiences that responded with intrigue, amazement and desire to participate, as well as conflicting perceptions that I was either crazy or disabled. The 2012 project Child Narratives is a video portrait of women telling the story of who they were as children. Paintings of them as children draw out their stories, allowing for deep, meaningful reflection. Both of these projects are prototypes for The Potential Project.

Research photos of Northampton, MA

Demographics & disability statistics in Northampton, MA

Coaching website:Preliminary aspect that was developed in 2014