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Monday, October 14, 2019

Disability and Visual Culture


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My name is Dan Keplinger. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and I have been painting since I was 16 years of age. Many years ago (2000), I was the subject of an Academy Award winning film entitled King Gimp filmed by William A. Whiteford and Susan Hannah Hadary, and was written by me was made about my life. It showed my struggles, especially my desire to become an artist. I feel that my life with a disability and my mainstream education as an artist has allowed me to explore the disability visual culture from both vantage points, those of an insider and outsider.

I had my first gallery show at the Phyllis Kind Gallery in New York City in 2000. I have had two additional solo exhibitions since then at the same gallery. (Figure 1.) This portrait was done during my Senior year of high school, when I was experiencing a lot of turmoil, like most other teenagers. My first solo show consisted of mostly self-portraits, but they were done in away that was not expected from a person with a disability. They were dark and thought provoking; the viewer could see that I tapped into raw emotions.

When installing this show, Phyllis took into account that I was in a wheelchair and that this fact would attract other wheelchair users to her gallery. So the paintings were hung at eye level for people in wheel chairs, rather than the usual 60 inch midline. Many people with disabilities came to see the exhibition.

A few years into my art career, I began to have problems with my feet that kept me from working on my art for weeks at a time. Since I produce my art kneeling on the floor, my podiatrist said a permanent solution would be foot surgery. I put it off until 2004 for fear that it would change, or end how I produce my work. However, this fear has led me to new imagery. I started to re-invent my visual vocabulary. For example, I began to morph my foot into the front wheel of my chair. My current work is comprised of both painting and printmaking and in these concurrent bodies of work I explore this new foot/chair iconography (Figure 2.). Also the idea of the places I cannot physically get to, would they be better places or not?

Also, during this time I had to switch to a new doctor who did not know anything about me, or my success. She suggested that I try drug therapy to help control my movement. I refused to take the medicine because it would not only have changed who I am but my artwork as well. I am happy with who I am and what I am able to accomplish. My ability, the way the world perceives me, and the unique way in which I produce my work are an integral part of my artistic identity and vocabulary.

My work is deeply personal. Everything I create is an attempt to convey my experience to the viewer. I want the viewer to understand my physical as well as psychological experience in the world. I might paint a wheelchair climbing a set of stairs in an attempt to reveal some of the physical barriers I encounter in everyday life. In other words, I incorporate the image of a chair, which I anthropomorphize by giving it hands and feet. This image is meant to impart some of the psychological aspects of my life. Most people upon first seeing me do not see me as an individual but rather see only my chair. Although my work is about my own experience, I feel that it deals with the challenges in life, which can be experienced by anyone, regardless of his or her physical or psychological realities.

In the painting Who’s Town 2006 (figure3.), I become the architect of my own town, to make it more conforming to my needs. Everyone always talks about taking control of their lives, they should be disabled for a week. Then they would really get since of lack of control.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Symbols, Symbols Every Where Symbols


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The other week my friend asked me to help her think of some emojis kids could design during class. Really it is ironic that we are going back to communicating as they did in the caveman days. I also thought about this blog I wrote a few years ago.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Symbols, Symbols Every Where Symbols
The other day I was thinking how I always said I was born at the wrong time, because my life keeps getting a bit easier as the technology improves. Maybe the field of Speech Pathology was ahead of the rest of society. When I first started to use a communication board, they were hand drawn symbols with words on it, so other people knew what the symbol meant. As my vocabulary grew, they would just add another symbol to the board.

I find it interesting that most of the same communication symbols are in use today even thou that devices have become digital. This takes the fun away from watching your speech therapist messing around with the contact paper and getting the bubbles out of it. Do not forget the fading from repeated used or rearranging when adding new symbols. Out of the blue I came up with this phrase to add on my board, “You rabbit you”. Nobody could figure out where it came from, but a few years later, Mrs. Peterson found it. She did not say where she found it, maybe it came from Bugs Bunny.
The reason why I had these thoughts, it is that symbols have become mainstream vocabulary. All of our social sites are just known as symbols, or on any electric device a symbol opens an application. Talk about different worlds colliding!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Interesting Disability Articles


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Sept. 19
As a disabled woman, my abortion wasn’t questioned—but my pregnancy was

Sept. 19
We Need to Re-Evaluate Treatment of Cerebral Palsy in Adults
I used to not sleep well, but that changed 15 years ago when I met Dena. One would think it would be opposite worrying about hitting her in our sleep, it has been the reverse. As I get older, I am the sorest after a night of sleep, maybe from being in the same position for so long. I don’t like to take medicine since most of I time it does not do much. I do not wake up ready to conquer the world, but from my movement, being sore, or needing to go to the bathroom!

AUG. 2,
Mindset Matters: Thoughts On Disability As An Inspired Instrument For Leadership


Friday, June 28, 2019

2020 Presidential Election


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Oct. 8,
Elected for Inclusion: A Presidential Forum on Disability Issues
Washington, D.C. – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and REV UP Texas are proud to announce Elected for Inclusion, our national nonpartisan Presidential forum on disability issues. The forum will take place on January 13, 2020 at the AT&T Hotel and Convention Center in Austin, Texas in advance of Super Tuesday and the November 2020 elections.
Elected for Inclusion – the Presidential Forum on Disabilities Issues will place the pressing questions the disability community faces on center stage and give major party Presidential candidates an opportunity to discuss policy decisions that affect approximately 23% of the American electorate.

Sept. 24
How do we achieve 100% participation by Maryland voters? EZ-Vote! Here’s how it works:
I have notice that Facebook has been doing a voter registration campaign, they should also list alternative ways to register since note everyone can go to their post offices and other places. In the United States alone, 48.9 million people have at least one form of disability. From physical impairments to mental ones, these challenges pose limitations on their lives and the world’s accessibility. I found a map of votes by PWDs, really shocking that the voting percentage is so low since so many of our lives are effected by every decision made in D.C.

July 25,
How Accessible and Inclusive Are the Presidential Candidates’ Campaigns?

July 25,
Beto O’Rourke Campaigns with Disability In Mind

July 23,
Joe Biden Runs for President to Bring a Democracy That Serves Everyone, Including People with Disabilities

June 28,
Not one 2020 candidate has a website that is accessible to the blind

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Winner of an OSCAR® for short documentary, King Gimp


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Winner of an OSCAR® for short documentary, King Gimp, directed and produced by Susan Hannah Hadary and William A. Whiteford, follows the life of Dan Keplinger from age 13 until his graduation from college. This award winning film documents his journey entering the mainstream as well as his birth as an artist. Challenging society to disregard his cerebral palsy, he’s greeted with a standing ovation as he accepts his diploma. 
In 2000, King Gimp won the prestigous Oscar Award® for best short documentary from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. At the Oscar Awards event, Dan Keplinger was so excited he lept from his wheelchair. “Most people thought I was having a seizure, but I was only jumping for joy,” Dan later explained to reporters.
King Gimp has been broadcast on HBO and has received many high profile awards and recognitions including a Peabody Award, National EMMY Nomination and The New York Festivals Media Disability Awareness Award.

Screen the movie King Gimp and participate in an interactive question and answer ceremony about the movie, Dan’s personal life, and Dan’s career as a successful fine artist. Contact Dan now, for more information and prices!!!

Friday, June 21, 2019


Since I have not received any proposals for the question of the week, here is something I have been thinking about. The logo that you have seeing popping up is really the tattoo my brother Paul designed and gave me. Now, Paul was an artist by heart, he kept most of his work private. I think it had too much meaning for other people to understand. Also Paul was his own worse critic for example if he see a tat he did, he would say you should come back and let me fix it. Would he be piss that I have made his creation into a shield for the human spirit?

Maybe it is my way of keeping his gift a live, my brother passed away in February from a decease nobody can remember, or pronounce. Paul wanted to give me this tattoo as soon as we got back from the Oscar. It might have been his way of saying you fuck’n did it!

I kept putting it off, because we all knew some laws would need to be fudge to get the job. Let me tell you, those laws did not get fudged enough, because my CP, gimp ass still moved.  I guest Paul is ok with my use of the tattoo, because so far I have had no visits or stuff flying in the air at me.

Written: 6/13/14

Thursday, May 30, 2019

F Keeping calm, Just Carry On


For a few years I have felt as if the Disability Movement has been slipping back words, especially when the moment King Trump took office. In fact as soon as he took office, the White House Disability site went down and it is still down to this day. Please check for your self at, if he does not acknowledge our struggle for our basic human rights than why should I respect him as the P********? The next two acts against the Disability Movement was trying to cut Medicaid and making the ADA so week that it is useless. Lets take the ADA, there is no government agency to enforce it. It is up to the everyday person to file a complaint, wait until a court date, and prove the case. Then we do not really know if the problem will ever get “fix”. The ADA was not signed into law to punish people, but to create an universal design to make our communities accessible for all.
Most people think Medicaid just pays for medical issues and PCA so PWDs can live safe and independent lives, but did you also know Medicaid also helps pay for program in special education? These all are basic human rights for everyone, that is why we get so passionate and will do anything for our voices to be heard. I am not really the type to go protest in a crowd, although when I have it feels good and always lose my voice. The thing I do question about protest, is my voice really being heard because that has been my arch nemesis through out my life. So I would rather use my art to raise awareness of the fight we face on a daily bases. Just as when I go speak even if I can change the mind of one person out of hundreds, I achieved my goal. It can be one squeaky wheel that can bring an assembly line to a halt.
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