The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

November 3, 2013

Artists rise above disabilities


Neil Mark Smith is another example of perseverance over disability, and produces outstanding art with no lower arms or right foot.

Erich Stegman is disabled as he has lost the use of both arms through polio at age 2. He is a prominent mouth painter, as well as forming the Disabled Artist’s Association around 1953. He was voted president of said association for life. This association continues to be home to hundreds of mouth and foot painters globally.

Amanda La Munyou, who has Asperger’s syndrome, started painting at age 7. She is now 12 and is producing what can only be said to be professional art.

Gilles Trehin has a form of autism and is called autistic savant. The city of Urville exists solely in the mind of this French savant artist. His elaborate sketches of the city are executed in beautifully intricate detail. He has published a book with more than 300 sketches of his fabled city.

I have a reasonably good idea what kind and the amount of imagination it would take to do something like he has done. It seems almost magical that a blind person could paint a picture, or that another person with no arms could paint with his feet, or even his mouth. It makes me ashamed of the things I sometime complain about. They certainly seem mundane compared to these wonderful artists. Perhaps if we could all be a bit more tolerant of each other’s differences, some of the world’s problems could be corrected. There is always hope.

Art League news

Now, for news from the Danville Art League, which is why this is being written in the first place. Yes, we are still a place for artists to gather, be thee young or old.

— Our children’s home school classes and after school art classes will finish the week of Nov. 6, and will resume Jan. 6. I cannot wait, and neither can the children. Our children, or our “shorter artists,” are amazing people. I have a 5-year-old girl in my after school class and her name is Katie. She has the ability to focus, learn very well, and produce art you would expect from someone older than herself. Her brother, Jack, is also a great kid and artist. Reid has progressed in the last three years and is now the master of many forms of art.

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