Thursday, June 23, 2011

Disbility and Art: Being an Artist (with a disability)

This will be the last post in this weekly series, though probably not on the subject itself. For the newcomers, I've been blogging about my thoughts on disability and art inspired by a documentary I recently watched entitled "ARTS: Disability, Possibility and the Arts."

I am a writer. I consider myself an artist and words are my medium (I don't mean this in a New Agey way, I mean it as an actual definition).

I have a disability.

My disability affects my art, because it affects the way I see, interact with and understand the world.

I am from the South, I am female, I speak French, I have been to Amsterdam, I am addicted to coffee, I believe in equality, I can quote passages of Harry Potter and I majored in English at a small school in Atlanta.

All of these things affect my art, because they affect the way I see, interact with and understand the world.

They don't make my art any more or less valid. The effect they have on what I do may make my work appeal more to certain people, they may help my work shed light on something I've experienced or seen that no one has quite put into words in the same way, or that can relate to someone who has had this experience while opening the eyes of someone else.

I am an artist with a disability, and I know the product of those last three words--their influence on me--threads its way through every element of the books I write because my disability significantly affects my life. But so does my obsession with England, though to a lesser degree.

A hundred--a thousand--a million tiny elements of my life can be seen in what I write and traced back to a part of me. Some can be seen more largely than others. My love of music rings higher than my interest in abnormal psychology (right now). But none of them define who I am or what my art is.

This is why I despair so much when people write, speak or purchase the works of an artist ONLY because they are "a disabled artist," because if disability were the only influence on their work, then my guess is it'd be pretty boring.