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Art and Disability

Published: 2019-09-11 - Updated: 2020-09-23
Author: Marcy Hernandez, Founder/Artist The International Association of Artists With Disabilities; Gracie’s Place Art Studio | Contact: Marcella Hernandez -
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Disability Art and Artists Publications

Synopsis: Marcy Hernandez discusses art and disabilities. Includes getting motivated to start an art project, and lists some well known famous artists with disabilities. Don’t let your disability stop you. You have much to share with this world as a person, through your art. Art has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, increase self-esteem, and can give an emotional release to the person creating it.


Main Digest

Defining the Word "Art"

The dictionary describes it as: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

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There you have it... Art is beautiful, appealing and of more than significance!

It is something that is created on an individual basis. What you may think is beautiful and appealing may be entirely different than what I think. But we both can agree that it is of more than ordinary significance, because it comes from the heart and soul of the person who created it...the Artist.

The Artist can tell stories through their art. It is a mixture of things that they love and find beautiful, things they have experienced, or people they have met or admire from all walks of life. It can be portraits, action-packed artwork, the delicate patterns of nature, sports, or the artist's perception of anything that sparks their interest. It can cause the person viewing it to experience feelings of love, anger, fear, a sense of awe, or even indifference. It is exceedingly powerful in this respect.

Art as Therapy

Why do we need art? Study upon study (i.e., The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature, Heather L. Stuckey, DEd, and Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH) has proven that art can be therapy for our mental well-being. It can help us to deal with this world we live in and make sense of why things happen as they do. It can reduce stress and anxiety, increase self-esteem, and can give an emotional release to the person creating it.

Artist? I Can't Even Draw a Straight Line

To be an artist, you primarily need the desire to convey what you believe through your drawings and paintings. Pick up that brush, pencil, or whatever type of art media you're interested in, and go for it! There are watercolors, acrylic paints, oil paints, pencil art, pastels, and more. Chances are that you may change the type of art media you ultimately utilize to create your masterpieces during the process, and that's wonderful. You will gain a sense of what works best for you and what doesn't. You will develop your own techniques that give you the results you are looking for. If you don't feel good about what you have created in the beginning, don't give up. Many artists start out like this. The old saying, "practice makes perfect" applies here. Your love of what you are doing, and your perseverance can often have a profound effect over time. Compare your current work with what you did even a year ago and see how your art may have changed.

I Have a Disability, No One Will Take Me Seriously as an Artist

Don't let your disability stop you. You have much to share with this world as a person, through your art. Do you realize that some of the world's most well-known artists in history were persons with disabilities? There are artists today, who paint or sketch holding a brush or pencil with their teeth, attached to a headpiece, or holding them between their toes.

Gracie's Place Art Studio; The International Association of Artists With Disabilities

Historically Famous Artists with Disabilities


Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni had limited function and mobility in his hands and was anti-social, yet was considered by many as the greatest artist in his lifetime. He is famous for his sculptures of "David," the "Pieta;" and for painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. He possessed the ability to instill a sense of awe in the people who view his works of art.

Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra.Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra.


Francisco Goya is thought to have suffered from neurological problems, resulting in headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, visual problems and mobility issues in his right hand. Many considered him the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was referred to as the last of the Old Masters of art. He was famous for his portraits.

Portrait of Goya by Vicente López Portaña, c. 1826. Museo del Prado, Madrid.Portrait of Goya by Vicente López Portaña, c. 1826. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter believed to be one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. He had epilepsy and bipolar disorder. He created approximately 2,100 works of art, including landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits. Sadly, in spite of being historically famous he was not commercially famous at the time and lived in poverty.

Van Gogh Self-Portrait, 1887, Art Institute of Chicago.Van Gogh Self-Portrait, 1887, Art Institute of Chicago.


Known for his use of color, Henri Matisse, was a famous French Artist. Although also a sculptor, he was primarily known for his paintings. After having surgery for cancer, he needed to utilize a wheelchair for mobility. At this time, he changed the art media he used by creating an important body of work in the medium of cut paper collage to adapt to his mobility limitations.

Henri Matisse, 1913.Henri Matisse, 1913.

Getting Started

In order to get started as an artist yourself, search for some of the well-known artists for the type of art you are interested in, to pick up tips and inspiration. Social media is a treasure trove of people getting started in art and provides the opportunity to network with other artists. There are even art associations tailored specifically for persons with disabilities to promote and showcase examples of their artwork. Art supplies can be purchased online from art supply dealers, and even some "big box" retailers at bargain prices. Purchase the best that you can afford, as the better the supplies, the better results you may get.

Most of all...have fun. It won't be long until you may become so engrossed in your artwork that hours will pass quickly as you enjoy creating it! As an artist, you are conveying what is important to you, your beliefs and opinions on many subjects. The beauty that you see...and want others to see also. You are creating what lies deep inside and cannot exist without you. You have much to contribute to society.

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Cite This Page (APA): Marcy Hernandez, Founder/Artist The International Association of Artists With Disabilities; Gracie’s Place Art Studio. (2019, September 11). Art and Disability. Disabled World. Retrieved December 1, 2022 from

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