Frida Kahlo Painted Using Assistive Technology (and So Can You)
Thank you to Jen Mullins, BS, CTRS, of the Michigan Assistive Technology (AT) Program for this reflection on the artist, her tools, and AT readily-available today for painters with disabilities.
Renown Mexican artist Frida Kahlo has been one of my favorite artists since I was a young girl. A few years ago, I was excited to learn that Kahlo also had disabilities and she shared about them in her art and writing; in this way, she has inspired and emboldened me to do the same in my own artwork.
Kahlo’s story and this photograph of her made me interested to find out what other kinds of easels are available for artists with disabilities. Just like Frida Kahlo and her family discovered, I found that there are different types of easels available that may work as assistive technology for some:
- Though I can’t say for certain, from the photograph it looks like Kahlo is using an adjustable drawing board. These boards can be placed on a variety of surfaces and the slant or tilt of the board is adjustable depending upon the needs of the artist.
- The Alvin Reflex Table was designed with wheelchair access in mind. The device has a semi-circle cut out for accessibility of wheelchairs. The 30″ × 40″ top has a raised, black, PVC edge that prevents items from falling off. The base of the table is wide enough to allow wheelchairs to maneuver through and has telescoping legs to adjust the height.
- The Convert-able table is a large, multipurpose and adaptable table with 0º-90º of tilt. The optional Art Easel top keeps paper unwrinkled on a roll while horizontal guides hold the paper in place.
- Danette Smiths Rotating Table Top Easel is a portable easel with a rotating top on ball bearings and is adjustable to 3 different heights.
- A standard tabletop easel may be used while sitting, standing, or reclining depending on the surface it is placed on and needs of the artist.
- Standing desks can be adjusted to many different heights, often with the push of a button. Some standing desks offer “memory settings” so that you can save a height setting and get the desk to that specific setting easily.
- If using a tablet to create art, tablet stands and mounts are available to position the tablet into multiple, different positions based on the artist’s needs. Some mounts can attach to the arms of wheelchairs, chairs, bed frames, and more and therefore have the potential to be mounted in more accessible ways than stands that need to be on a fairly flat surface.
Author Samantha Chavarria shares more about Kahlo’s many identities and her personal connections with Kahlo in her article, I found my passion after becoming disabled, and I thank Frida Kahlo for teaching me the beauty of second chances.
This article was re-posted with permission from the MIAT blog
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The AT3 Center, the Association of AT Act Programs (ATAP), and the Administration on Community Living (ACL) make no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this blog. The AT3 Center, ATAP, and ACL have not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device hereto referred.