Worsham, Erin Brady
|Art Form||Digital art|
|Keywords||Body Self-Image, Chronic Illness/Chronic Disease, Communication, Disability, Human Worth, Humor and Illness/Disability, Ordinary Life, Patient Experience, Survival, Technology|
Mind, Body, Spirit consists of three pictures. The artwork representative of "Mind" shows a woman in a wheelchair wearing a red beret, bright yellow smock, and holding a paintbrush in one hand and a palette in the other. The frame around the seated woman is composed of ovals of one color enclosed in squares of the opposite hue. The woman looks directly at the viewer and sits squarely in the center of her chair and the image. Although enclosed by a thick border, the woman’s feet, and the brushes in her right hand and mouth break out past her boundary.
The depiction of "Body" maintains the same layout template. Here, however, the woman seated in a wheelchair is wearing yellow flippers, a yellow bathing cap on top of which sit goggles, and a red swim outfit. On her lap is a floatation device - a swimming tube - that the woman covers with her folded arms. Four colors comprise the background: blue, green, aquamarine, and purple; these are grouped into shapes evocative of waves in water. As in "Body," the seated figure, although enclosed by thick borders, trespasses beyond; in this picture, her flipper-encased feet challenge the confines of her space.
"Spirit" makes use again of the same template. Here, the background is given perspective and is representational of grass and sky. The blue-green colors are restrained and soothing. The woman meditates in a wheelchair, and is visually balanced with symmetrical positioning of hands, arms, and feet. Her hair is fully visible and uncapped by a headpiece. In contrast to the other two images, her eyes are closed. She is flanked by a blue and green border, beyond which her hands and feet extend.
Erin Brady Worsham, from Nashville, Tennessee, suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and is a quadriplegic. Her artwork is made through use of an augmentative communication device called the Liberator, that translates eyebrow movement into artistic gesture (for further description see Worsham’s article, "Mindmuscle," in QUEST Volume 11, Number 3, MAY/JUNE 2004).
Worsham began to formally study art in 1991 at the age of thirty-three at the Watkins Art Institute. In 1999, she began using software that allows the Liberator to decode her artistic intentions. The themes in her work reflect her condition and her pieces are hailed by Donna Glassford, the Director of Cultural Enrichment at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, as "celebratory, ironic, joyful, and intelligently thought out." Each work takes Worsham between 60 to 200 hours to realize.
Mind, Body, Spirit, a triptych of sorts, was created for an article on staying healthy in the Muscular Dystrophy Assocation’s QUEST magazine ("Staying Healthy With a Chronic Disease", MDA / Quest Vol 9 No 3. The art reflects on incapacity by relegating a symbol of disability--in these images, it is a wheelchair--to the background. The foreground focuses on a physically and metaphorically centered woman, able to perform different types of functions while maintaining an impish smile and rosy cheeks.
The viewer is expected to overlook the physical confines of the chair, focusing instead on the abilities and details of the featured woman; Worsham expounds, writing, "I found it very interesting, that many people told me they didn’t even notice that the woman was sitting in a wheelchair in all three pictures. And that, I realized, was the point! Her abilities, the art and swimming and meditation, outshone her disability. Maybe the world will catch on to that some day!" (see: "EXtraordinary Lives" online link above from this annotation.)
|Location of Original||Property of the artist|
|Annotated by||Bertman, Sandra L.|
|Date of Entry||11/21/05|