Jordan and Josie
|It is what it is, yes we are a big family", 8' x 16' (collaboration with Jordan and Josie)
Jordan and Josie This couple
lives together in an apartment in Richfield, Minnesota, and are also a part of the Graduate Living Community (GLC) of Minnesota
Life College (MLC). MLC is a vocational and life skills training program for young adults with learning differences and autism
Jordan and I were at dinner one night talking
about family and life. When the topic of disability came up Jordan told me story about a t-shirt with the phrase "It
is what it is" on it. I really appreciate Jordan for sharing that phrase with me, it is a powerful lesson for anyone.
What stood out most to me while I was getting to know these two was the depth
of the support they have from job coaches, GLC, strong family relationships, and great friends. Then, when I was discussing
what should be represented in a painting with his community perspective Jordan had another story to tell. He said he was out
to dinner with a group from GLC and someone asked if they were a big family and he thought that yes, we are a big family.
Josie and Jordan are such an easy couple to like, they are kind and honest and willing to help me
|... people with disabilities to live in freedom. 8'x16', (Collaboration with Haddayr Copley-Woods)
My home is just a few blocks away from Haddayr’s home in the Powderhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis. This is how
Haddayr describes her disability in one of our early email interactions, “My physical
disability is neurological symptoms most probably as a result of MS, although I am
still undergoing the multiple-years-long process of getting a diagnosis, and in summer
I nearly always lose most of my outward symptoms or walk with a very slight limp”.Haddayr
recommended a trip to downtown Minneapolis to visit the Target store and go for a walk in the skyway. We made our visit on
a weekday during the lunch hour when the skyway is full of the downtown midday crowd. Typically when I walk in a busy skyway
I have little room to maneuver and often need to weave a path through the crowds. This experience with Haddayr was quite unexpected.
As we walked through the skyway, Haddayr using her crutches, we didn’t need to weave through anyone because people cleared
out of the way. This clearing wasn’t necessarily in a polite way but was accompanied by sheltered stares at ME and Haddayr.
We talked about the people watching us as we walked through the skyway and the novelty we presented for the day. I have never
felt such piercing stares and began to become a little self conscious and like I was on display. This is the experience of
people with a physical disability everyday and I was moved by having a very brief introduction to being viewed as different.
I also accompanied Haddayr to an ADAPT meeting. From the ADAPT website, “ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights
activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people
with disabilities to live in freedom”. This meeting as well as Haddayr’s strong voice for disability rights inspired much of the painting.
ADAPT is working to keep health care affordable and keep people with disabilities in their homes and communities. An issue
that I am still learning more about and the connection with ADAPT and attending a meeting gave me great insight into the home
care needs of many people in my community.
|Rainbow of life, 8' x 16' (with Stephanie Evelo)
The first time I met Steph was when she dropped in my studio during an art
crawl with her parents, David and Sheryl. She bounced around checking out my work and we had a pleasant and brief exchange
and soon started to meet on a regular basis. What struck me about Steph early on was that she didn’t talk about herself
as having a disability so I won’t talk about her having a disability either. This project is about others perspectives.
My time with Steph included going to dinner, shopping for groceries, and just time sitting and talking. My highlight was being
able to visit Steph at her work and getting a detailed tour of all the places she has worked and a close look at the jobs
she was especially proud of. The last time I saw Steph was when we were planning her painting and I gave her a list of questions
to consider: What is your favorite color? What is your favorite place to travel? And What things make you happy? These were
just a few of the questions I left her with. When I attended Steph’s memorial service I was struck by the emphasis on
Steph as a loving and compassionate woman who was surrounded by people who loved and missed her. Her painting is titled “Rainbow
of Life” because Steph loved and cared about people and she lived a colorful and full life!
|Beauty, 8' x 16' (with Robert Mingo)
Bob lives in North Minneapolis with his wife Amy and
his dog Max. Bob and Amy also share their home with some roommates so the house often has people coming and going. Bob is
living with Muscular Dystrophy (FSH). Bob and I have had the chance to spend a lot of time together talking about his community
and living with MD. During our conversations I always come away feeling better about myself just by being around him, Bob
is a true humanitarian. Some of our best talks were while out walking Max around his neighborhood and watching Bob greet everyone
he meets with a hello and smile. Most people have the time to stop and say hello back but this simple act has great insight
into Bob’s community perspective. In his community Bob listens to those that need to talk or talks to those that will
listen, his gift is helping and putting others before his own needs. This selfless behavior is magnified when you see the
pain and fatigue that Bob is experiencing because of MD. From his chair Bob finds energy to remain positive and hopeful for
his community and this shapes his community perspective.
Here is one of my favorites:
Beauty is in the eye of this beholder.
see beauty all around me.
Sometimes it’s clouded by cares of this world.
beauty is harder to see.
Sometimes I must look much deeper.
I must see beyond my
Beauty is truly seen with the heart.
Our eyes can tell us lies.
Our eyes can also blind us to evil.
So always trust your heart.
the seedlings of beauty are planted.
Water with goodness and growing will start.
you heard the saying it takes one to know one?
It’s kind of the same when searching for beauty.
The more beauty I emit, The more beauty I receive.
As long as I have the heart to see.
Robert. A. Mingo (Humanitarian Poet)