Chasing Light is an ongoing (circa 2011) collaborative medium format color film photography project between twin siblings Bianca Sturchio and riel Sturchio. Chasing Light embodies the belief that representation, visibility, autonomy, and truth-telling can promote personal empowerment, and open up access to spaces that foster meaningful dialogue and community. Bianca and riel utilize photography as a means to delve into the complications of their respective non-normative identities and health-related challenges.

Bianca and riel were both born premature with severely delayed developmental milestones, which doctors later diagnosed as cerebral palsy (CP). With the help of rigorous physical therapy and medical interventions, riel and Bianca learned how to adapt to their bodies. riel’s body endured less trauma and responded more rapidly to therapy. Though riel lives with the consequences of invisible chronic illnesses, including endometriosis, riel's CP symptoms remain nearly undetectable. Currently, Bianca lives with the physical and social consequences of her visible disabilities as well as invisible illnesses.

The photographs included in Chasing Light capture activities of daily living, intimate partners, personal spaces, family, and moments of joy, pain, and frustration. Bianca and riel both identify as non-normative in body and identity, but in different ways. riel is queer, and someone who lives with invisible chronic illness, and Bianca lives in the intersection of physically disability and queerness. Bianca and riel strive to reject the 'disability-as-inferior' narrative and invite a perspective that considers disability and non-normativity as an extension of human body-variance, which possesses unique potential for creativity, growth, and adaptability. 

The project offers raw and unfiltered moments to illuminate the more challenging aspects of identity and disability, which contain many moving parts. Chasing Light serves as a conduit to consider riel's position as lead photographer or observer, and how riel's gaze both filters and complicates the narrative. The project also makes space for an ongoing dialogue, where riel strives to make sense of the complex dynamics between her identity, body, and environment--namely the privilege and guilt associated with recognizing her ability to access particular social opportunities and pass as non-disabled. Bianca similarly aims to re-frame how she and others imagine the human body and strives to challenge society's narrow perception of what constitutes as valuable, worthy, and deserving of visibility.

riel and Bianca intentionally photograph in natural light for its ability to show detail, provoke emotionality, and reveal the authenticity of aging and the fragility of skin. Moreover, they employ the metaphorical dichotomy of light and dark, representing the uncertainty in seeking physical, mental, and emotional stasis.

Bianca and riel unanimously maintain that social connections create the foundation for community, and that knowledge is a source of power. Thus, they intend to use Chasing Light as a platform for and by disabled artists, as well as allies who share a desire to challenge dominant narratives of health, disability, illness, LGBTQ+, and non-binary identities.


Bianca Sturchio (she/her) is a mixed-media artist and graduate holding a MSW (2020) and BSW in (2019) from the University of Southern Maine. Bianca uses her lived experiences of disability and queerness to inform both her professional and creative pursuits. Bianca explores the tactility of layered materials, and experiments with mark-making, use of color, and repetitive patterns. Select works have been published in Hunger Journal online. She endeavors to use art as an emancipatory tool to express the implications of living inside a unique body and mind. In 2017, Bianca released an intimate account of her mental and physical health challenges in an 80-edition RISO zine titled I don't want to live in darkness for a multi-artist show Body is a Bridge (Visual Arts Center, Austin, TX, 2017). 

riel Sturchio (they/she) is an interdisciplinary artist whose fine art practice includes film photography, printmaking, artist books, prose, sound installation, sculpture, video, and collaboration. Their work revolves around their experiences with disability, chronic illness, and queer identity. Through one-of-a-kind prints, sculptural installation, traditional and experimental approaches to photography and sound, they explore how symbols such as bodily response to aging, color, descriptive sound, and words challenge and complicate taxonomies of the body, touch, and time. Through enlargements of detail, rich color, and immersive installation, riel provides their audience opportunities for altered mental, emotional, and physical states and explorations of vulnerability and bodily attention. They received an MFA from the University of Texas, Austin (2018), and a BFA in Photography from the Maine College of Art (2012).

Chasing Light is supported in part by (in no particular order): the Alexia Foundation, the Dallas Museum of Art, the New Orleans Photo Alliance, the Maine Arts Commission, the John Anson Kittredge Fund, and the Kindling Fund, a grant program administered by SPACE as a part of the Andy Warhol Foundation For The Visual Arts Regional Regranting Network. 

We are incredibly thankful to granting organizations who continue to support the evolution of our work, thank you.

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