Art & Activism: A word from our guest speaker Sue Clancy
Sep 2, 2017 by Amanda Flynn
Attributes of each character often play a story-role. These attributes may be physical qualities, mental abilities or life experiences. Somewhere along the journey each character discovers some strength they didn’t know they had at the start.
What if one (or more) of the characters were differently abled? How would that affect the story?
As a deaf kid growing up in Oklahoma I did not see stories with deaf kids in them. Certainly not as the story hero or as a subject for fine art. I realized that many other people – differently abled, as well as different ethnicities did not see themselves in stories or fine art either. I knew I could draw well so I began to create visual stories, graphic novel type stories, and fine artworks that featured many “different” kinds of people as characters. I created fine artwork that depicted, somewhat realistically, people who were “different” i.e. not always white or heterosexual or male or able bodied.
Some people loved my work. Other people sent me hate mail, threatened me at grocery stores or at my art openings.
Over time I realized that the people who sent me hate mail were scared by my idea that literal diversity is a beautiful and normal part of life. They were scared by the idea of different kinds of humans sharing the same pictorial space. But these same people were okay with diversity at dog parks, or in children’s books. They were okay with the fact that not all of the dogs looked alike, they were okay that in a kid’s book there could be a cat character talking with a mouse character.
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