Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jeahn Clare's I Wasn't Born A Mermaid

I was recently introduced to the work of artist Jeahn Clare. Clare suffered a spinal chord injury at the age of 20. Currently, she works as a theatre teaching artist and is affiliated with VSA Arts.

I was moved by an excerpt from her play, I Wasn't Born A Mermaid.
A colleague once asked, “Do you consider yourself an artist, a woman artist, or a disabled artist?" My immediate response is, "Which day? What time?" I am a theatre artist; woman; person with a disability. None of these qualities encompasses the sum of my being; yet each expresses something true about me. And Survivor; I didn’t know that prior to my injury. I do now; I value that. I’m not saying I would have chosen spinal cord injury as a path to personal growth, but the depth it has brought to my life is undeniable. After all the pondering, praying, reading, therapy, weeping, whining, blah-blah-blah — one day I bite into a strawberry, and I get it: Utter certainty that this Life is no accident. My injury may have been an accident — but that strawberry is no accident! And I believe that living is something I can do from the seat of a wheelchair.

I wasn’t born a mermaid. I evolved. It was a dramatic moment, not quite a fall from grace, but a fall nonetheless. But then, that’s another story. This is a tale of a different sort, a transformative tale — transformation not of the outside-in, but of the inside-out.
VSA will feature the work of 16 artists with disabilities at The Armory Show in New York City from March 5-8.

Also, check out Axis Dance Company, a contemporary dance ensemble that utilizes beautifully physically integrated dance (dancers with and without disabilities). You can find a short video of the group here.