Living with a disability is often challenging. Whether physical, mental or developmental; a disability by it’s very definition is a deviation from what is considered normal. As such, individuals classified as having a disability often view the world around them and others through the lens of their disability.
Many disabled individuals are often unable to work full-time or even part-time jobs. A physical disability such as paralysis or a mental disability such as bipolar disorder color an individual’s world. While many disabled indiviudals would argue they are not or do not want to be defined by their physical, mental or developmental condition, most would readily admit that their disability is a huge part of their identity.
Art, in its many forms, is one means of self-expression that can help disabled individuals reflect on and explore their own disability. An recent exhibit in one large metropolitan area showcased several artists all who are considered disabled. Through their art, these individuals tackle many of the issues and obstacles often experienced by individuals living with a disability.
One woman, who relies on a motorized scooter to get around after her leg was crushed in a car accident, uses art to explore her feelings about her disability. While the woman was an artist prior to the accident which left her disabled, she admits her art has evolved as her physical disability changed the way she is both perceives herself and is preceived by others. In one photograph, she is shown eating cake with a large banner showcasing the word “pity” above her. A caption describing the photo informs viewers that the pity party is over, but there is still cake available.
Imagery and words such as these help raise awareness of the many issues facing disabled Americans. For many of these individuals, a disability not only impedes their ability to walk, think and communicate; but also greatly impacts their feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. For these individuals, art is a means to express their feelings and emotions and help other understand their situation.
Source: Medill Reports Chicago, “Living with disability on display in rare art exhibit,” Lindsey Peterson, May 21, 2013