The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

November 3, 2013

Artists rise above disabilities

Knowing that I have written about famous artists well-known by most people in the world led me to the decision about the type of artists to write about in this article. These are not your typical artists, who don’t struggle daily with a significant physical or mental problem.

All of the artists I will be talking about are disabled in some way. These artists, both male and female, young and old, use their art to communicate with the world. Some of the disabled artists are famous; others are a little less well known. Some of these creative people use their feet to paint, or their mouths. Others are blind or suffer mental disabilities, yet they produce some of the most beautiful art you can imagine.

We will begin with Stephen Wiltshire, whose disability is that he is an autistic savant. He is a world-famous architectural artist. He did not speak until age 9, but at 10, he began to draw detailed sketches of London landmarks. I realize that I have mentioned this man before, but he is simply too amazing to be mentioned only once. After spending only 20 minutes flying over New York City, he created in great detail an 18-foot panoramic landscape of the New York skyline.

Another of these amazing artists is Joseph Cartin. He is from Brooklyn and actively lives with bipolar disorder. He has been active in the “Mental Health Consumer Movement” since 1990 and considers himself a “psychiatric survivor.” He has won many art competitions, and does corporate design work in addition to his personal art.

Peter Longstaff is missing both arms and is a foot painter. Everything he creates is with his feet. His mother had used the drug thalidomide, which was prescribed to her for morning sickness. Many women were prescribed this medicine until it was discovered to cause deformities in fetuses, with many babies being born minus limbs, etc. This artist considers his right foot as important as his right arm.

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