Office of Student Life

Disabled artists showcase talents

This aticle originally appeared in the April 21, 2008 edition of The Lantern.

By Patrick Fox

Lantern staff writer

When she was 21, Ohio State student Judy Dixon suffered an injury that paralyzed her right hand.

Despite this disability, Dixon, who was right handed, found a new love in art. “I am just inspired by the colors, I can look at a certain color and envision what can be made out of it,” she said.

Dixon, now 57, is one of five disabled artists who are part of an art exhibit located on the second floor of Bricker Hall. It highlights Dixon, a current Ohio State student; Jonathan Meister, an OSU alumnus; two Columbus residents and a South African artist. The exhibit, which is in its third year, is part of OSU’s Disability Awareness Month.

Lois Burke, director for the Office for Disability Services, said there were many student organizations and offices involved in the process.

“We have a group called UNITY and also the Youth Transition Corps.,” she said. “We want to make sure we have the students involved in the planning that we do.”

The mission of the exhibit is to show that people with disabilities can perform at a high level, burke said.

“I think that when people walk up (to the exhibit) they go, ‘oh this is for people with disabilities.’ But what I hope that when people go up there, they say, ’oh what beautiful artwork,’ and then they happen to find out that this work was done by persons who have disabilities,’ Burke said.

The message of the exhibit is apparently getting across.

Dylan Balser, a junior in finance and accounting, said, “I looked at every piece of artwork (and) I noticed that they were all phenomenal. Each was so different, but yet so good at the same time.

“What I didn’t realize was that most of this artwork was done by disability students and people, and some of them I realized were blind, some amputees and it really was just fantastic.”

The Bricker Hall exhibit extends into OSU President E. Gordon Gee’s office as well. There is an exhibit entitled Disability Bears and each teddy bear reflects students represented by the Office for Disability Services. According to Burke, Gee’s Disability Bear has, “a visual disability and has a seeing eye dog and a cane.”

Dixon, a senior in English and sociology, also works as an advocate with Choices and Volunteers of America. For her art she focuses mostly African-based sculptures and quilts that were partly inspired by a recent move from her home, New Orleans, to the Columbus area after Hurricane Katrina.

Dixon experiences physical challenges when it comes to creating her artwork.

“In my mind I may want a certain piece to look a certain piece to look a certain way but because of the disability, I may not be able to maneuver that piece to get that particular image I’m looking for.”

Dixon however, does not let her disability slow her down. She merely sees it as a learning experience and a way to create different art.

“this has not impeded my abilities to be creative,” she said. “Yet it has intensified my drive to explore other areas of creativity.”

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A photo of two paintings in a gallery. One is on the left and showcases three small white flowers. The other photo is straight ahead and showcases a waterscape with the moon is the sky.

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A black mat the has three masks laid out on it with a variety of sizes on white ovals with black dots in them.

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