ACCESS Department Replaces ‘Tacky Motivational Posters’ With Poignant Disability Awareness Art

The Kendall Campus’ ACCESS Department got spruced up thanks to artwork that brings awareness to people with disabilities.

Various colorful works by students are now peppered across the ACCESS office. One features former United States President John F. Kennedy, who suffered from an assortment of health issues. Another portrait depicts a girl crying  with the word “freak” scrawled above her head while a third painting portrays a woman sitting down, her face buried in her knees while she hugs her legs.    

The poignant works are courtesy of the 2017 ACCESS Art Contest. They were first  exhibited in the building 2 breezeway on Oct. 25.   

“[The idea] came from wanting to find a way to get the students involved to help highlight them and what we do as a department and who we serve,” said Krystal Aleman, an adaptive technology specialist at ACCESS. “Not only do we get to empower the students through decorating our department with their artwork but we get a chance to replace the tacky motivational posters that we have on the walls.”

First place went to Michael Dennis for Hidden Issues; Sadie Figueroa placed second with her piece Déjà Vu and Reethwan Rasheed came in third  place with The Man With The Thinking Brain. Ludwin Vasquez won the Dean’s Gold Award for a portrait of Jim Morrison, the late lead singer of The Doors.  

All of the artists who entered pieces will have their work displayed in the ACCESS Department for the next year.  A badge will be pinned to the winning entries.

The contest’s guidelines asked the artist to illustrate their thoughts, feelings, reactions or understanding of people with disabilities. That could be in relation to one’s own experiences or that of a friend or a loved one.

Figueroa, an art education major, used her art to detail the feelings she has during an epileptic seizure. She said the violent convulsions  leave the left side of her face numb, her tongue littered with bite marks and cause massive headaches.   

“I kind of abstracted a portrait of myself with cubism, abstract expressionism and colors. Just making shapes out of the feelings I have when I convulse,” Figueroa said. “It’s not something that I show anger toward. Just because I have epilepsy doesn’t mean I can’t find more abilities to overcome it and become stronger.”

ACCESS hopes to hold the art contest annually and wants to host similar events throughout the year. This year, the first place winner won $250, second place won $150 and third place won $100.

“This contest was done in an effort to empower our students and give them something to be proud of and open the floor for dialogue,” said Alexandra Chirkoff-Johnson, the secretary at the Kendall ACCESS Department.

For more information about the Kendall Campus’ ACCESS Department and its services, visit Room 2121 or call (305) 237-2767.

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