Museum of Modern Art exhibition highlights artists with disabilities

NEW YORK — An exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art shines the spotlight on artists with learning disabilities and other disabilities.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reports, their works help them thrive by communicating who they are and how they overcome their challenges with art.

Christopher Chronopoulos of Hell’s Kitchen is living an artist’s dream. His work is in the famous Museum of Modern Art.

He showed Carlin one of his coins, explaining, “His name is Fenikkusu, and he’s a spirit of fire that resides in me…It’s almost like a phoenix that’s in me that every time that I’m, like, down and out, it just pulls me up.”

The exhibition “I am a monster, I am a flower, I am everything” presents Chronopoulos and other members of YAI, a group of artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

YAI members pose inside the Museum of Modern Art.
The exhibition “I am a monster, I am a flower, I am all at once” features members of YAI, a group of artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

CBS2


“They diagnosed me with PDD…It only triggers me when I’m upset, like when I’m really sad or angry,” Chronopoulos said. “It comes out like a whiplash. It comes out because I don’t want to listen.”

He says it is through meditation, tai chi and his art that he is able to achieve the right balance.

“Does it take you out of yourself and into a world that helps?” Carlin asked.

“It gives you the feeling that you can do just about anything,” Chronopoulos said.

Artist Jimmy Tucker says he’s dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“I wash my hands a lot or check the door to my house often,” he said.

Tucker, who lives in Chinatown, says he gets lost in art in the best way possible.

“I think art is therapeutic. For me, it’s like every time I have a bad day or a negative thought in my head, I just take the pencil and I just start drawing and I leave all that anger or that anxiety flowing down the paper,” he says.

In addition to his illustrations, Tucker designed a t-shirt with quirky characters.

“A lot of the characters I create are superheroes with disabilities, so I base the four main characters I created on things I deal with like autism, learning disabilities, shyness, or OCD,” did he declare.

The leader of this group for YAI is Priscilla Frank.

“I see how talented and passionate they are, and believe in their work with all my heart, and it’s just amazing to see the pieces we make in our rambling studio elevated in this iconic, legendary and hallowed space. . where so many artists fell in love with art in the first place,” she said. “We’re all, like, really humbled and blown away. We make space art all day, every day, so we really wanted the artist to take on a creative alter ego…to find a different creature inside of them and try to make space. ‘art like that creature and to really embody that creature.”

“Having the courage and the ability to show yourself through your work and really express who you are by doing…We are truly honored to be able to share their work with the public,” said Theresa Rodewald, assistant educator for the department of MoMA Learning and Engagement.

The exhilarating and creative exhibition continues until September 30. For more information, Click here.

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