The Freedom of Art

Apr 08, 2011
Tagged with:

One thing that’s great about art is that it allows anyone to be creative. Art has no boundaries, restrictions, and can come in so many different mediums. Just like there are different forms of art, there are different ways of creating art. For those with disabilities, they too have found unique and creative methods to express themselves. Artists that have physical disabilities that have no or limited use of their hands can paint or draw with their feet, their mouth or even with their head.

Open Arms Care is an intermediate care facility. Started in 2006, the art realization program is modeled after the work of Tim Lefens, an abstract painter and sculptor who founded Artistic Realization Technologies, a nonprofit that creates systems that enable those with severe physical challenges to produce art. Open Arms understands the importance of art and the right that people with disabilities should also have the opportunity to create their own art. The art realization program allows clients who want to participate in various art shows to sell and share their pieces of art. Executive Director, Sue Cook explains that it is important that the clients are accepted regardless of their abilities or limitations.

Leslie Eleazer, Artist

Leslie has cerebral palsy and uses a communication board and can’t use her hands, feet or mouth, but she still expresses herself artistically. She is able to paint with the help of a “Tracker” – an individual who is instructed to paint when, with what color, and where.

A tracker relies on visual and auditory cues and reactions of the clients. The trackers mix and brush the paint on the canvas for the client, who may not be physically capable of doing it, but the interpretations are strictly the client artist’s own images.

First, Leslie is set up in a chair facing a blank canvas. Margaret (her tracker) stands by the side of her seat and holds a sign with a palette featuring a multitude of colors. Leslie points to the color she wants to start with.

Using a ruler, Margaret moved across the canvas until Leslie gave a verbal cue for her tracker to stop. Once given the signal, Margaret marked the point on the canvas and continued to move the ruler around in a circular motion. When Leslie indicated she was ready for another point, Beasley stopped, marked the area and changed direction for her next point …

To read more about the process, you can go to

Author: Jenny Carlton