Can a person who is blind become a visual artist? If someone is experiencing depression, could brush strokes help provide relief? Can someone draw with precision by holding a pencil in their mouth? Absolutely! Artists such as these have been featured in Kaleidoscope for decades.
When the first pages of the magazine were compiled and copied in 1979, the goal was to provide a creative outlet for adults with disabilities who were in the vocational services program of the agency now known as United Disability Services. Forty years later, Kaleidoscope is an award-winning publication respected both nationally and internationally. How did that happen?
Creativity knows no bounds so the publication extended its reach beyond the walls of the agency, and soon received recognition as a pioneer in the exploration of the experience of disability through the lens of literature and fine arts. With an evocative array of fiction, essays, poetry and art, Kaleidoscope was ahead of its time offering a bold new approach when few were talking about disability outside of medical journals and other professional publications.
The work of notable artists like Joni Eareckson Tada, Michael Naranjo and Elizabeth “Grandma” Layton have graced the pages of the magazine. Although all of the artists featured have some type of disability, the work is selected solely based on merit. Sometimes the disability impacts the way the person creates art and sometimes it is irrelevant in the production of the work. David Sampson was featured as a painter, sculptor and writer in the early years of the publication and said it best, “Disability is certainly an undeniable aspect of who I am. But it is just an aspect—an adjective not a noun.” It does not define a person. We select the work of talented artists who produce amazing art often challenging perceptions of what is possible.
To celebrate the magazine’s fortieth year, we’ve selected a group of diverse artists who have been featured in Kaleidoscope for the way they uniquely express themselves and share their talent. The tools they use are varied. Each one produces incredible results. Check out the video, listen and see for yourself how creativity can, and often does, transcend.