Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Portrait of Dorian ... Wait, That's Dave

So, do you recognize this handsome guy? That would be me. What with all the packing and moving I picked up a file and this fell out. I immediately recognized it. During a lecture somewhere in Southern Ontario, a fellow with a disability came up to me and gave me this gift. He'd done a portrait of me giving the talk. The shirt is exactly the colour of a shirt that I used to consider my 'presentation' shirt (a fancy way of saying my 'lucky' shirt) and the suspenders ... well. I have worn suspenders for years, often during my talks my shirtneck rides down and my suspenders are exposed - he put them on the outside of my shirt where he thought they belonged. Everyone's a critic.

If you look closely you'll see that this drawing is done with ink pen! Thousands of small lines are put together to form the image. It's really quite a remarkable piece of work. The signature is hard to make out, the first name starts with E. and the last name I think is Flemming. I remember him quite well and the picture brings back a memory of the hall I was presenting in. You'll see a stage behind me, speakers too. He took in all the details.

I was so glad to find this and a bit angry at myself for being so overwhelmed with stuff that I forget important stuff. But luckily this picture remains, his gift is still to be savoured.

When I began in service to people with disabilities the idea of 'arts' was pooh poohed. People made fun of 'arts and crafts' and 'basketweaving'. Oh how arrogant we were as we put emphasis on everything we thought important and belittled everything they did well. If it was a skill, ignore it ... if it was a deficit, focus on it. Yep, a recipe for self esteem.

Thank heaven's Mr. Flemming had support that supported. His talent, respected. Because, now, I have this wonderful drawing.

By happy happenstance, does anyone out there know Mr. Flemming? I'd like to drop him a line.


rickismom said...

Several Years ago a young man with Down s. entered his design for "holiday" stamps in Israel. When he won, the "winner" was called to the stage, and the MC kept telling him, no, I want XYZ, until the fellow said "III am XYZ!!!!!" And the stamps where beautiful.

Ashley's Mom said...

I've always believed that not enough attention and energy was spent assisting people with disabilities discover their creative sides. I fought really hard this past school year to get my 12 year old daughter into an art class, and she has really excelled in it. She is a very talented artist, and had I not strongly advocated for her to explore that side of herself, she would still be relegated to those gosh darn ADL's school staff are so apt to emphasize. Personally, I think painting and drawing can also be considered and Activity of Daily Living :)

FAB said...

I say all the time that I work in Human Services because it's what I'm good at and what I love, I have a great deficit in the math department so I guess if someone were to write a "program" for me they would have me working accounting and I'd be miserable and horrible at it! It's so silly and hyprocritical how we have (and still do) address people's "skills."

Art has been shown to not only be therapeutic but important to one's wellbeing across the board.A good piece of art also brings joy to others. The agency I work for has an awesome gallery where they showcase and I believe sell people's work. I work for a great place!

Dave I hope you will frame the picture and perhaps hang it with the other treasures yoou recently found!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely a beautiful rendering! I should photograph a series of drawings from Jimmy, a man with Down syndrome, that were given to me and my co-workers a long time ago. I still have them. This was pre-Gabe and I remember Jimmy's sweetness and longing to be just be part of the crowd. (At that time, I worked in a trendy jeanswear store.) Anyway, the drawings are wonderful and like you, fell out of a book I had forgotten I placed them in.

Gabe is completely intrigued with crayons and chalk, and there really isn't a day that goes by without him drawing. I love art. I always have and I hope that Gabe keeps discovering those hidden gems inside himself that art reveals.