I grew up using a wheelchair in a time before people with disabilities had any rights. I remember as a kid not being able to go into buildings, onto buses, on sidewalks, being asked to leave places and told that my being in restaurants “disturbed” other customers. So I felt early in my life that even if I believed I had a right to do anything that anyone else was allowed to do, that OTHER people didn’t necessarily feel that way about me. Being an assertive person, I started speaking out about what I saw and experienced by the time I was about 15.
Involving & Organizing
I am sure this is related to why I have a burning interest in involving people in community life, whether it be in art, politics or other issues. In college, I converted my major from computer science (“a good profession for a person in a wheelchair”) to political science and communications (“a good profession for someone who’s pissed off”). When I graduated, I started organizing. I have been a community organizer since 1988, serving as executive director for the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, associate organizer for the Industrial Areas Foundation, Oregon Organizer for Stand For Children, voting rights organizer for Lane Independent Living Alliance and Program Coordinator for the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts: DIVA in Eugene.
Art & Activism
Recently I decided to shift my activism, from civil disobedience and direct action for political change, to using my artwork to allow others to understand the experiences of life with disability and organizing for change. I hope my thoughtful self-examination and expression using both japanese woodblock printmaking and photography (and soon performance art) will enable others to appreciate and embrace difference and similarity in new ways.