Disabilities Need Not Preclude Art

Lisa Molyneux is in her 16th season as the leading scenic artist for Playhouse in the Park. Wayne Hambrick is one of 15 full- and part-time people on her team. Jane Seymour, actress and artist, was

Nov 15, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Lisa Molyneux is in her 16th season as the leading scenic artist for Playhouse in the Park. Wayne Hambrick is one of 15 full- and part-time people on her team. Jane Seymour, actress and artist, was linked to both of them while her work was on display here the past few weeks.

So, what do these three people have to do with one another? And how are they connected?

Maybe I should begin here: At the first of two receptions for the public to meet Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Justice, Somewhere in Time and a passel of other films) and peruse her paintings and purses at the Design Consortium in Oakley, Hambrick presented her with a sketch he'd drawn of her face. It bore, by all accounts, a remarkable likeness. Sweet, but not particularly dazzling — until you consider that Hambrick is legally blind.

He is one of 25 artists with disabilities whose work is currently on display in the Through My Eyes exhibition sponsored by Art Beyond Boundaries downtown, which was one of two organizations benefiting from a portion of the sales of Seymour's work.

The Art Beyond Boundaries exhibit, running through Jan. 6, features a variety of media in works from paintings to sculpture to jewelry and holiday fare.

All artists are from Greater Cincinnati, and all have some form of disability. The artists featured have disabilities that range from hearing and visual impairments to paraplegia, psychiatric disabilities and others.

In Molyneux's case, the disability is, as she says, "just something I deal with, not who I am."

Twenty-five years ago Molyneux had her senior year of college abruptly truncated when a drunk driver charged onto the sidewalk and threw her into a parked car. She spent the next year in the hospital and the next couple of years after that using a wheelchair. She lost her left leg.

But life moves on, Molyneux says, and hers has been rich with family, friends, work she loves — and the fact that she has one prosthesis is just a part of life for her. Her job, she says, is a physical one — climbing on ladders, always on her feet, never feeling hindered by her disability.

Hambrick's relationship with disability is newer. Three years ago, at 47, a diagnosis of macular degeneration interrupted his successful career as a graphics artist; he had reached a point where he could no longer see well enough to do his job. A bout with depression ended in his realizing that he was still the same man and still an artist. He can still paint and draw, but with different tools and techniques.

Hambrick met Molyneux through Essex Studio, where she spends her evenings and weekends, and went to the Playhouse to work for her. The expansiveness of painting scenery lends itself well to his impaired vision.

What Art Beyond Boundaries staff didn't know when they suggested the idea of making the sketch is that Seymour would have a more personal interest than that of philanthropy in Hambrick's drawing and the challenges posed by his eye disease. Her mother, too, has macular degeneration and, as it happened, her next stop after Design Consortium was a New York fundraiser for macular degeneration.

"I have lots of blind friends," she told me and, perhaps because everything sounds smarter in that lovely British accent, it sounded like a claim to ties with royalty.

Peggy Greenberg of Design Consortium said that this is the third year Seymour has exhibited her work here and that each time a portion of sales has gone to a designated charity. This year proceeds were shared by Art Beyond Boundaries and Jewish Vocational Services.

Her gift contributes to providing opportunities for artists with disabilities to display and sell their work and move forward along the continuum of both disability and art.

As with their art, some have reached a point where disability is "just a part of life" as Molyneux says, while others are still exploring adaptations and possibilities.

Art connects people. It connected Seymour to Greenberg, Hambrick to Molyneux — and people with to those without disabilities.

For information on Seymour's paintings or products, call the Design Consortium at 513-321-1800 or visit janeseymour.com.

contact Deborah Kendrick: letters(at)citybeat.com