Interested in purchasing a print of this piece? Check out the "You Stood With Me IV" Giclée print in my Etsy shop today!
I had the privilege of growing up in the company of folks with disabilities. My mom worked as an occupational therapist in a local public school and when I visited her work, I had the opportunity to get to know the young people and adults with disabilities that she worked with who not only had diverse needs, but also diverse gifts, skills and talents.
I am grateful to have learned from a young age about respect of and friendships with folks whose life experiences were different from my own.
In the “You Stood With Me” series, I wanted there to be a piece that spoke to the marginalization of folks with disabilities and the need for more accessible spaces, respect, justice, solidarity and friendship in our communities, in short, the need for greater and more radical inclusion.
For many years, I also worked with an organization called The Highland Friendship Club, based in my hometown, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
"The mission of Highland Friendship Club is to serve individuals with disabilities from teens through adulthood by providing a range of opportunities to develop lifelong skills, friendships and connections within their community."
The organization has created opportunities for athletics, theater, art, adventure, crafts, cooking, yoga and so much more, all with a focus on accessibility and the inclusion of different abilities.
As an artist, I am very interested in how art can serve as a call to action to grow in understanding, love and solidarity with those most marginalized among us. Often, our good intentions are not enough. We need to educate ourselves and learn to listen in order to effectively respond to the needs of those among us who are experiencing marginalization.
For that reason, I hope this piece can serve as one attempt to visualize the expressed needs of folks with disabilities, a call to action to those of us who are able-bodied and do not live with a disability, to grow in solidarity with those who do.
For what are the original Works of Mercy but a direct response to the expressed need for support and love?
If we open ourselves to hear the expressed needs of our friends and loved ones with disabilities, what response would be asked of us?
In the process of making this piece, I learned a lot that I did not know about the diverse experiences of people with disabilities. It was a humbling reminder of the constant learning process that we are invited into when entering into relationship with those whose life experiences are different from our own. My hope is that my art can humbly enter into that ongoing conversation.