Where: Goddard College, Plainfield VT
When: 7 – 9 p.m. on July 26, 2011
Open to the public!
Dana Heffern, a Type 1 Diabetic, has been awarded a scholarship from the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD). The scholarship will help fund a performance art piece that discusses the difficulties of living with Type 1, entitled “Antidote.” The work will be performed on the campus of Goddard College and is scheduled for the end of July, 2011.
Dana has been working as a decorative painter, interior designer, and Broadway scenic artist in New York City for over a decade. She either painted or led the painting crews responsible for many of the top-selling and award-winning shows on Broadway today. Shows such as Billy Elliot, Mary Poppins, The Lion King, The Color Purple and Mamma Mia.
Today, Dana lives in Burlington, VT, working towards her MFA at Goddard College. She is also a volunteer diabetes mentor in Spectrum’s Youth & Family Services program focused on supporting young people with Type 1 diabetes.
Ginger: Dana, I know this gallery show is focused on an aspect of diabetes awareness you’re incredibly passionate about, what “fuels your fire” when it comes to raising awareness of Type 1 diabetes?
Dana: I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I belong to a community that makes up only 5% of the diabetic world. Our disease is very different from the Type 2 Diabetic epidemic that people hear about in the media. We Type 1 Diabetics have frustrations about being lumped in with people with Type 2- simply because there is such a difference in the diseases; and therefore, such misunderstanding about us.
Ginger: So you’re creating a gallery show completely focused on Type 1 diabetes?
Dana: Yes, exactly! The theme of the show is Type 1 Diabetes. The show will include an actual dinner party set as a performance piece/ spectacle, and a performance art piece entitled “Antidote.” The experience will be an opportunity for non-diabetics to eat with people from the diabetic community. The dinner will be made up of approximately 20 performers and 10 additional guests who will participate in the dinner.
Ginger: How will the non-diabetic guests be involved into the event?
Dana: Well, there are three levels of participants: the dinner performers, the dinner guests, and the viewers. The performers sitting at the table will be comprised of endocrinologists (MD) as educators on the disease, nurses (RN) as aids and demonstrators for the actual medical procedures performed, diet/fitness educators, non-diabetics as learners, and Type 1 Diabetics as advocates. The project is about making visible the private experience of living and eating as a Type 1 diabetic.
Along with the ‘dinner as art’ performance, there will be 2-D artwork on the walls. The 2-D work will have Type 1 Diabetes as its theme. The dinner, as well as the 2-D artwork, will be open for view by the general public. The general public is there to watch the dinner, which will be roped off, as if it were a sculpture in a gallery or museum. These people will be there to observe.
Ginger: What are you aiming to accomplish with this event?
My goal is to educate the dinner guests and viewers about Type 1. As a Director, my hope is that the guests eating at the dinner will see food in an entirely different way. I will be asking people to step outside of their comfort zones and re-direct their ideas regarding food, illness, and formality. The details of eating dinner for a Type 1 Diabetic are mostly unknown or misunderstood by the non-diabetic population. Injecting insulin and testing blood sugar is a life-saving, daily necessity in my community.
Ginger: Wow, so the non-diabetics are going to be really experiencing a touch of life with diabetes, right in front of them, at the dinner table?
Dana: The guests and the viewers might be uncomfortable seeing this. However, challenging people’s comfort zone is part of the piece, and necessary for educating people. The production is designed to challenge the ideology behind ethics. Our belief systems that frame rules of conduct will be recognized and challenged through the actions of the dinner performers, guests, and viewers.
The concept of proper dinner behavior will be challenged. Is it okay for a diseased person to perform medical procedures in front of people eating, and in front of the public in general? The situation will ask the performers, guests, and viewers to examine their idea of rightness and wrongness as well as the goodness and badness of the event: challenging the criteria of conduct around food and public display, medicine and sickness.