People with physical and mental disabilities have long been precluded from fully participating in many aspects of society. Eminent artists such as Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec triumphed over their physical impairments with unrivaled feats of creativity and dedication.
WHEELS UP: The Wheelchair as Artistic Vehicle features work of various media by five artists associated with the Academy of Special Dreams organization. While each of these artists uses a wheelchair for mobility, their respective means of creating art illustrates the diversity within the special-needs community. Artists Jhovana Cecena, Tom Doyle, Todd Tostado, Martin Vogel, and Nakita Wang are each highlighted for their artistic merit and creation of innovative tools for expression. Both Vogel and Doyle utilize the front and/or rear wheels of their wheelchairs in the actual process of applying paint onto a surface, whereas Tostado's wheelchair serves as the physical link to a computer that ultimately captures the depictions of his imagination.
WHEELS UP is guest-curated by Flavia S. Zuñiga-West, an independent curator and visual arts teacher in Los Angeles. Zuñiga-West is a passionate advocate of inclusivity and accessibility in museums and serves as Program Coordinator of the Diversity Committee for the American Alliance of Museums. She is an alumna of New York University’s Museum Studies Program and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The mission of the Academy of Special Dreams is to increase public awareness, appreciation, and recognition of the creative talents of people with disabilities by providing opportunities that encourage, promote, and showcase their artistic expressions. For more information, please visit: www.specialacademy.org/about.
This exhibition received generous support from: Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) and Academy of Special Dreams.