Talents Choose to Flourish in the Face of Disability
Art, as we create and discuss it, is a passion, practice, and craft for as long as man discovered the importance of leaving marks on a lasting surface. Anyone is capable of creating their own brand of art, one they consider wondrous—be it illustration, dance, theater, and many more forms. Nobody should be excluded from making art they call artwork, especially because of a hindering disability such as missing fingers or legs.
Art pigments the world, and persons of different backgrounds, cultures, and body types celebrate art in their unique ways. Anyone can be in the arts with enough dedication and perseverance. For those who have been carrying a disability their whole lives, disability in the arts was created to foster disabled artists’ talents in a range of forms, whether these be film, fine arts, stage, to modern dance.
Today, a number of schools and institutions cater to disability in the arts that motivate and showcase talent from disabled students and artists through many opportunities for performance. Founded just a little over three decades ago, Very Special Arts (VSA), the international organization of arts and disability in the United States, brought awareness for disabled people with undeniable talent. It was headed by the US ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, who aspired to provide education and arts for disabled individuals, planting on their passions and creating greater awareness for the rest of the world. Now with fifty-two international affiliates and a large nationwide network, such as the International Center on Deafness and the Arts and Taping for the Blind, the organization continues to cater to arts and education for the disabled young and old all across continents.
There is no higher satisfaction and humility for disabled artists who are given the chance to work with others who come from similar life paths—colleagues they call friends in disability in the arts—simultaneously capturing their beautiful flaws, painting viewers a vivid picture of their minds and realities of their culture, and finally reflecting on their unique perspectives and personal experiences. DisArt Symposium, an international symposium of disability arts, recently launched their international conference in Michigan from April 6 to 8, 2017, which featured performances such as disability in the cinema, life-story presentations, and speak-up sessions.
Like every other person, disabled individuals carry abilities they wish to greatly develop as a hobby or profession. They may not be fully capable physically, but time, patience, familial support, good training, and assistive technology will aid an artist with disability toward achieving their goals. Although we still have a long way to go, it’s crucial for society to remember these truisms:
The disabled aren’t there to simply sit back and be entertained; they are entertainers and creators just the same.
Disabled people must be given the wealth of financial accessibility in reaching their goals.
Disabled artists must be provided with equal professional opportunities for development like all artists.
Even the great pianist and composer Ludwig van Beethoven only developed his ability to compose classical music after losing his hearing capability. Django Reinhardt, a jazz guitarist from Belgium, was already an accomplished guitarist when he lost his hand in a house fire. That did not stop him from creating new techniques to playing his string instrument—and with only two fingers left. Reinhardt became a world-renowned recording artist, while Beethoven continues to be a famous, well-loved name in classical music.
Disabled people are just as special and should be treated special next to a normal human being. Disability in the arts fosters a hopeful, positive, and warm community for the disabled and the world around them.
DisArt Symposium. 2017.”DisArt Symposium 2017.” Accessed May 24, 2017. http://www.disabilityartsinternational.org/blogs/2017/disart-symposium-2017/.
Sandals, Leah. “8 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Art and Disability.” Canadianart.ca. March 2016 (accessed May 24, 2017). http://canadianart.ca/features/7-things-everyone-needs-to-know-about-art-disability/