Much of my life is spent in the company of “the Least of These” – adults with developmental disabilities. The term “Least of These” comes from Jesus to refer to people with very little power and influence in the world; the marginalized, if you will. I use it here because so often these particular members of humanity are relegated not just to the fringes but off the page entirely.
Recently, we had a funeral for a man who was a resident in one of the homes my organization operates in Ottawa. He had only been in our care for two years. Before that, he had been in an institution for most of his life. As the funeral preparations were being made, we searched for photos of him to display. We could only find two – two – of reasonable quality to use for him. This fact was incredibly sad but also indicative of where a person with a disability often ends up on our scale of importance.
I am an artist as well as a personal support worker in an adult day program. I have been motivated over the last few months to balance the scales on behalf of the people I support. One way I can do that is by honoring them with portraits. I have been slowly adding to the collection but I want to share some here as a way of elevating these men and women from the unfortunate status of “non-persons” to that of unique individuals with great personality, gifts, and worth.
Each of these drawings are charcoal pencil on paper.