Publications

International Journal of Art & Design Education

Autonomy of Artistic Expression for Adult Learners with Disabilities

Volume 27.2   2008

YOUNG, G C

 

When an art tutor adopts the role of assistant to a disabled artist it is difficult not to move from helping with the physical handling of materials on the one hand into the actual creative process on the other, thus influencing how the artwork looks. Ecas is an Edinburgh-based charity which promotes opportunities for the physically disabled people to be self-fulfilled and to participate in all aspects of society. They run, among other things, traditional art classes and computer classes. The use of computer technology (CT) in art seemed to offer the chance for self-fulfilment for disabled artists by increasing control over artistic choices and providing for self expression with only minimal assistance required from others. Ecas decided to fund a research project in the form of a ten-week pilot course and the data collected during the trial confirmed these possibilities and it was clear that adult learners with disabilities could benefit from CT in order to have greater autonomy in the creation of their art than before. In particular the program Corel Painter IX.5 and various graphics tablets proved to be powerful arsenal for self-expression without having to wait for a tutor to tape paper to a board, replenish paint, change brushes attached to a head pointer or any one of the many and varied problems disabled students had with traditional art materials.