REVERENCE is part of a series of traveling performances that question accessibility across the American landscape wherein Blinkhorn becomes an object of reverence that serves as a reminder of one’s own limitations, inevitable mortality, and the systematic need to act now on accommodating current and future disabilities. As a wheelchair user, she likes to explore accessible environments that allow access to her independence. The BeltLine is an excellent example of repurposing the environment to allow for better access for all.
Blinkhorn, who is from southwest Cobb County, remembers the struggles she faced transitioning from the suburbs to the city. The lack of proper curb cuts, the seemingly endless number of eroded and rooted sidewalks, and areas with no ramp and sidewalk access made navigating the urban landscape difficult and, at times, dangerous. In 2013 Blinkhorn moved into a small apartment located in the Old Fourth Ward district and at the end of her street was an opening to the paved Eastside Trail of the BeltLine. To Blinkhorn, this was not just an entrance onto a walking path rather, it was access to safe environmental independence where obstacles were few.
The performances focus on celebrating the independence the BeltLine has given her and other individuals in the disabled and aging communities. Before the performance begins assistants will line the starting point with flowers under the direction of Blinkhorn. Dressed in a costume made of white and gold textiles and fragments of mirror (all outsourced from local artists) and donning tapestries embroidered with the initials of her siblings who have passed, she will draw attention to herself as an object of reverence while gradually moving down the BeltLine centered between the right and left walking paths. She will not interact with individuals during the performances instead, she will remain a silent entity moving steadily through the crowds that constantly occupy the BeltLine and casting her gaze forward. The occupation of her form should cause viewers to question her presence. If the viewer stares long enough, they will notice a QR code attached to her chair that will inform them of the narrative. Each performance will take place at 3:33 p.m. on Saturdays and will run for exactly 3 hours and end at the corridor that marks 3 hours of movement. The exit taken by Blinkhorn at the end of the performance will be marked by the same flowers placed at the beginning of the performance.
Jessica Elaine Blinkhorn is an Atlanta-based artist and performance artist. Blinkhorn’s work advocates for the disabled, aging, and LGBTQ+ communities. Blinkhorn, who uses a powerchair, focuses her work on acceptance through acknowledgement of difference, body positivity, disability education through experience and exposure, human sexuality, and story-telling. Blinkhorn, because of the deteriorative nature of her disease, began to explore performance art in graduate school to assist with creating and constructing a social narrative to promote change, equity, and inclusion. She has been featured on ABC World News(2010), was the subject of the award-winning documentary short “Grounded by Reality”(2010), was named a finalist for the Forward Arts Emerging Artist Award, GA(2011), has received grants from Change, Inc., FL(2012), Artist Fellowship Grant, NY(2013, 2014, 2015), Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, NY(2018, 2020), C4 Atlanta, GA(2020), and, most recently, was named a Franklin Furnace Awardee, NY(2019-20), Artist in Residence at the Momentary, AR(2020), and Artist in Resident for the Paseo Project, NM(2021).