Artists Biographies

Disability Culture is an international movement that includes visual art, music, dance, theater, literature and sports. Access Living's Headquarters, located in downtown Chicago and with community and event space, gave Access Living the opportunity to launch an Arts & Culture Project. The project started in 2007. The project is designed to raise awareness around disability arts, community and culture, and to give voice to artists with disabilities.

The Disability Arts & Culture Project includes event programming and a Permanent Collection.

Arts & Culture Events include poetry readings, dance performances, musical performances, cultural presentations, and community discussions. For information on upcoming events, check out the Arts and Culture Calendar.

The Permanent Collection at Access Living is unique; comprised of art by professional artists with disabilities, as well as work by non–disabled artists who have made disability a central focus of their investigations. Below are bios of artists included in Access Living's permanent collection.

Also, in 2013, Access Living is a partner in Bodies of Work, an 11–Day Festival featuring visual and performing arts that highlight the work of artists with disabilities.
Anne Weitze

Anne Weitze

Anne Weitze's small-scale embroidery puts an ironic, contemporary spin on old-fashioned needlework. Her series "Treasures of Spam" uses the familiar tortured prose of spam email subject lines, rendered with delicate flourishes. The years Weitze spent in the advertising world inform another embroidery series illustrating corporate jargon, professional buzzwords, and other nonsense familiar to all beleaguered cubicle dwellers.Learn More
Blake Lenoir

Blake Lenoir

Blake Lenoir (b. 1984, Chicago, IL) renders the flora and fauna of his native Illinois with the same compulsive intensity he brings to drawing the endangered species of the Amazon basin. Filling the page with butterflies, insects, native grasses, flowering plants, tree-dwelling mammals, and birds with exotic plumage, Lenoir depicts the jungle (or the prairie) as a Wild Kingdom teeming with life of every sort.Learn More
Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi

Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi

Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi was born and raised in Taiwan. She received a BFA, and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She resides in Taiwan, working as an art therapist and helping establish disability culture in China.Learn More
Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly revolutionized the Studio Glass movement through the practice of using teams, rather than acting as a solitary artist alone in a studio.
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David Blaisdell

David Blaisdell

In addition to his talents as a visual artist, David Blaisdell (b. 1949, Chicago, IL) is also a prolific poet and the author of four novels (as yet unpublished). His drawings range from reverent portraits—of beautiful women and the Russian writer Boris Pasternak—to abstracted compositions dense with hidden meaning.Learn More
David Richards

David Richards

David Richards (b. 1952, Springfield, MA) received an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1981 and has been teaching at the school since 1983 as an adjunct associate professor. His recent work can be described as mixed-media relief that playfully combines abstract forms with images that sometimes evoke childhood—with a slightly sinister twist.Learn More
E. Brooke Lanier

E. Brooke Lanier

E. Brooke Lanier (b. 1983, Rochester, MN). She is a top award winner in the 2007 VSA “Driven” competition, exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. She recently was the subject of a profile in the Chicago Tribune Sunday magazine. She holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.Learn More
Elizabeth Ernst

Elizabeth Ernst

Elizabeth Ernst (b. 1950, Buffalo, NY) is clearly interested in issues of visible difference—an interest with a deeply personal origin. Her mixed-media work, such as “The G. E. Circus,” is filled with half-human creatures and all manner of “freaks.” In it, Ernst tackles the complicated emotions of being the younger sister of a brother born in 1948 with cerebral palsy.Learn More
George Zuniga

George Zuniga

George Zuniga’s bold compositions and swift strokes, rendered in pastel, charcoal, and pencil, are examples of “artism,” a term he coined to describe the work of an artist with autism. A self-taught expert on military armaments, television newscasters, Japanese anime and manga, and heavy-metal music, Zuniga (b. 1982, Chicago, IL) creates portraits that are brutally honest, calling to mind the unflinching eye of Goya.Learn More
Gordon Sasaki

Gordon Sasaki

As an artist and educator in universities, museums, schools, and private institutions, New York City-based Gordon Sasaki is a dedicated proponent of inclusion through the arts. His work is exhibited internationally and held in many private and corporate collections.Learn More
Hollis Sigler

Hollis Sigler

Hollis Sigler (b. 1949, Gary, Indiana; d. 2001, Chicago, IL) received a BFA from Moore College of Art in 1970 and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1973. Her awards included those from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She had solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., Susan Cummins Gallery in Mill Valley, CA, and Printworks Gallery, Dart Gallery, and Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago.Learn More
Jessica Kincaid

Jessica Kincaid

Jessica Kincaid (b. 1970, Lexington, KY) received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1992 and an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2001. She also holds an advanced certificate in computer interactive media from Johnson County Community College. Learn More
Jon Wos

Jon Wos

on Wos (b. 1981, Lena, WI) received a BFA from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2005. He has exhibited his art at venues throughout the United States and Canada, including the Chicago Cultural Center, the Kennedy Center, Reagan National Airport, and Toronto’s Joseph D. Carrier Gallery. Learn More
Bronze Trio, Jude Conlon Martin - Embedded

Jude Conlon Martin

A Chicago native, Jude Conlon Martin received her Master’s in Fine Art/Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, writing her master’s thesis on “The Other” in images of disability. Martin did her internship at Access Living, and was an art therapist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. She then, along with Evelyn Rodriguez, ran the M&M Roll Model Mentoring Program for the Women with Disabilities Center at RIC. Learn More
Katie Dallam

Katie Dallam

Katie Dallam (b. 1959, Columbia, MO) received a BFA in 1983 and an MA in psychology from the University of Missouri. She made art and worked as a counselor for people with severe drug and alcohol problems until 1996, when she became permanently disabled due to a brain injury sustained during a boxing match. Solo shows include: “Shadowboxing: 20 Year Retrospective Solo Exhibition,” at The Urban Culture Project in Kansas City, MO (2005); “Before and After,” at the Johnson County Community College Student Gallery in Overland Park, KS (2005).Learn More
Katie Miller

Katie Miller

Katie Miller was born in New Hampshire in 1984, and grew up in Boca Raton, Florida and suburban Sacramento, California. At five, she decided to become an artist and then taught herself to draw. During adolescence, Miller created her first independent body of work and began to study art history. She works full time as an artist and is represented by Conner Contemporary Art in Washington, DC.Learn More
Laura Ferguson<br>

Laura Ferguson

Laura Ferguson (b. 1947, New York City) is a New York artist who explores the connections between art and medicine through the imagery of her own body. Her interest in anatomy comes out of her own experience of scoliosis, a deformity of the spine. She began by making drawings from her own X-rays. As her interest grew, she took a scientifically rigorous approach to the depiction of anatomical structures,Learn More
Marcos Raya

Marcos Raya

Marcos Raya (b. 1948, Guanajuato, Mexico) came to Chicago in 1964. He is a pioneer of mural painting in Chicago. Existing murals include "Against the 3rd World War" at 18th Street and Western Avenue; “Community Horganization" at Casa Aztlan, 1831 S. Racine; and "Cataclism" at 2201 S. Halsted. Raya’s work was featured in the “Chicago Show” that inaugurated the new Museum of Contemporary Art.Learn More
Mat Fraser

Mat Fraser

Mat Fraser is a U.K.-based writer, actor, musician, and performance artist with his own production company, Phocomedia Productions. His theater work, performed both nationally and internationally, includes Thalidomide! A Musical, Sealboy: Freak, and The Flid Show. Films include Every Time You Look at Me, Helen of Troy, Born Freak, Unarmed and Dangerous, and Happy Birthday Thalidomide.Learn More
Neil Marcus

Neil Marcus

Neil Marcus (b. 1954, NY) is an internationally recognized central figure in the development of disability culture. As a writer, actor, dancer, philosopher, and visual artist he has had a profound impact on the thinking and lives of disabled people far and wide.Learn More
Riva Lehrer

Riva Lehrer

Riva Lehrer (b. 1958, Cincinnati, OH) has lived and exhibited in Chicago since 1980. She has had solo exhibitions at the Lafayette Museum of Art, the Chicago Cultural Center, Susan Cummins Gallery (Mill Valley, CA), the University of Notre Dame, and A.I.R. Gallery (NY).Learn More
Susan Dupor

Susan Dupor

Susan Dupor’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including the national touring exhibition “Elements of a Culture: Visions by Deaf Artists.” She was awarded the 2004 Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship, and her works were displayed at the James Watrous Gallery at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn More
Tabata Hideomi - Bio Picture

Tabata Hideomi

Tabata Hideomi’s life was intercepted at infancy when he drank arsenic in adulterated baby formula, which produced profound neurological damage. His family was given $800 for this corporate malpractice. Instead of remaining sequestered in his family’s home and care, Hideomi moved to Kyoto, where he became active in the Center for Independent Living.Learn More
Terrence Karpowicz

Terrence Karpowicz

Terrence Karpowicz (b. 1948, Cleveland, OH) received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Albion College in Michigan and then moved to New York City to pursue his career as an artist. In 1972, he became inspired to sculpt after assisting disabled artist Mark di Suvero with an installation.Learn More
Tim Lowly

Tim Lowly

The son of medical missionaries, Tim Grubbs Lowly (b. 1958, Hendersonville, NC) spent most of his youth in South Korea. In 1981, he received a BFA degree from Calvin College. The same year he married Sherrie Rubingh. Their daughter Temma was born in 1985. Learn More
William A. Newman

William A. Newman

William A. Newman (b. 1948, Great Lakes, IL) is a professor at the Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington, D.C. He received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and his MFA from the University of Maryland.Learn More
Winnifred Birts And Kenneth Williams

Winnifred Birts And Kenneth Williams

Winnifred Birts (b. 1953, Chicago, IL) makes detailed renderings that depict contemporary African-American urban culture in Chicago. Kenneth Williams (b. 1969, Chicago, IL) creates colorful and closely observed buildings, entirely from his imagination. Using various media he captures the busy lifestyle of the city.Learn More