Artists with disabilities
Some people with disabilities are amazingly talented, hardworking and communicate with the world through their incredible artworks. However, some artists are blind or have mental disabilities, yet they create beautiful and intricate artwork. Artists with physical disabilities paint with their feet, mouth… Here I collected artworks of such people. In particular, Stephen Wiltshire, Doug Landis, Maria Iliou, Joseph Cartin, Peter Longstaff, Willow Bascom, Alice Schonfield, Keith Salmon, Lisa Fittipaldi, and Matt Sesow. Also, Michael Monaco, Simon Mark Smith, Dennis Francesconi, A. Erich Stegmann, Richard Wawro and many more. According to Mark Haddon, we should know people for their abilities, not their disability.
Doug Landis became paralyzed from the neck down, after an awful accident, during a high-school wrestling match. According to the artist, he discovered his talent quite accidently. It was when he saw the drawing of a house, on a Christmas card, and thought he could do it himself. He redid the drawing a few times, until he developed his own style. Using only his mouth, Doug creates some really extraordinary artworks.
Stephen Wiltshire. Disability: Autistic Savant.
Born in 1974 in London to West Indian parents, Wiltshire is a world famous architectural artist. He learned to speak at the age of nine, and at the age of ten began drawing detailed sketches of London landmarks.
Talented Artists with disabilities
Greek artist Maria Iliou has autism spectrum disorder. She lives in Long Island, New York, and is an advocate for the rights of people with autism.
Brooklyn born Joseph Cartin actively lives with bipolar disorder. Active in the Mental Health Consumer Movement since 1990, he considers himself a “psychiatric survivor”. He has won numerous art competitions and does corporate design work in addition to his art.
Foot painter Peter Longstaff creates all of his artwork using just his feet, having no arms. Peter’s disability stemmed from the drug thalidomide, prescribed for morning sickness. Unfortunately, it caused deformities fetuses. After living most of his life without arms, Peter considers his right foot to be like the right hand of most people. So, he uses it dexterously to open doors and perform many other everyday tasks.
Willow Bascom grew up in Saudi Arabia and Panama, where her father was a pilot on sea vessels. Her early introduction to varying cultures made her a huge fan of tribal art. Later in life she was struck with lupus, and started drawing when it went into remission.
Disability of Alice Schonfield – Diminished capacity through multiple strokes. Although mostly known for her sculpting work primarily in Italian marble, she is also an inspirational figure for the disabled community. She has shown a considerable tenacity to work through debilitating illnesses and has done a lot to promote awareness of disable artists. Schonfield resides in California.
A blind fine artist and avid mountain climber, Keith Salmon has climbed over a hundred Munros (a type of Scottish mountain). In 2009 he won the Jolomo award for Scottish landscape painting.
Lisa Fittipaldi not only learned to paint after losing her sight, she wrote a book about it. Her inspiring use of color and her ability to tell which color she is using just by feeling the texture of the paint are just two remarkable facets of her story.
Just six years after losing his hand as a child in an accident in which a crashed plane severed his arm and took away his dominant hand, Matt Sesow played for the US team in the disabled Olympics in England. While working at IBM as a software engineer, he began painting scenes in oils that were influenced by his traumatic injury.
A quadriplegic, Michael Monaco paints with his mouth. His work appeared in global exhibitions. Also, he is a member of the Mouth and Foot Painters Association.
Talented artist, Simon Mark Smith has no lower arms or right foot. In addition to his still paintings, he teaches digital photography and writes poetry and prose. He is also a web designer.
Dennis Francesconi. Disability: Paralysis.
Francesconi is a mouth painter that excels at adding a high level of detail in his works, especially considering his method of painting them. He has participated in over 75 exhibitions around the world.
The first President of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World, A. Erich Stegmann lost the use of both arms and hands from polio at the age of two. A prominent mouth painter, he formed the association around 1953 and was voted president for life. The association continues to be home to hundreds of Mouth and Foot painters globally.
Talented Artists with disabilities
Richard Wawro was a prominent and prolific autistic savant artist from the United Kingdom. He began drawing at the age of three, and immediately covered the chalkboard with a number of detailed images.
Jessica Park is an autistic artist from Massachusetts. According to the artist, she starts with a sketch of the scene and may refer back to a photograph for more detail later. Her mother wrote a memoir about Jessy’s story.
Ping Lian Yeak is an autistic savant who has been producing amazing art since his childhood. He is now seventeen. More of his amazing art may be viewed at his website.
Born in Iran, Christophe Pillault is a French autistic savant artist. He is unable to speak, walk or feed himself, but he produces paintings of flowing, beautiful figures. His art has been exhibited globally.
Talented Artists with disabilities
George Widener is a famous autistic savant artist whose works decorate museums and galleries nationwide. In addition to intricate works of art, he is also able to make complex calculations in an instant.
The city of Urville exists solely in the mind of French autistic savant artist Gilles Trehin. His elaborate sketches of the city are executed in intricate detail. Noteworthy, he has published a book with over 300 detailed sketches of his fabled city.
Amanda LaMunyon. Disability: Asperger’s Syndrome. A talented child artist, she began painting when she was only seven. Now she is twelve. In kindergarten, instead of cutting out letters to illustrate her alphabet, she drew her own.
Esref Armagan (born 1953) is a blind painter of Turkish origin. Born without sight to an impoverished family, he taught himself to write and print. He has painted using oil paints for roughly thirty-five years. Using a braille stylus to etch the outline of his drawing, Armağan requires total silence to create art. Then he applies oil paint with his fingers and leaves to dry fully before to apply a new color. He uses this unique method so that colors do not smudge. Noteworthy, he creates his art without help from any individual. He is also able to create art that has visual perspective. Born blind, Esref Armagan is from a poor family, but it did not stop her intention to become a successful artist.