Artwork / Empathetic Magic / Caitlin Fitting In and Standing Out

two portraits of the same woman in a wheelchair
Gwenn Seemel
Get Well Soon (Caitlin Fitting In) and Don’t Look at Me That Way (Caitlin Standing Out)
acrylic on bird’s eye piqué
each painting 18 inches in diameter

$1800  |  $1800

Caitlin Wood ordered a glass of wine with a straw. This simple gesture shifted the lens for me, bringing the world I thought I understood into sharper focus. This place was not built for Caitlin. I knew this from watching Accessible Intercourse, her excellent YouTube series about disability and sex. I understood that able-bodied people were no good at imagining a world where disabled people are not disregarded or discarded, but the straw made it real for me.

That first meeting at her favorite bar turned into neighborhood strolls and long afternoons spent swapping titles for best books and rubbing her best dog’s belly. I wanted to paint her ideal wheelchair for her. It would be a true extension of her that responded to her thoughts and reshaped itself depending on the environment. Ultimately, I settled for giving her chair a custom paint job and attaching the mirrors she was always threatening to add so that people would be forced to see the looks they gave her. I’m still working on getting better at imagining and painting a world that allows Caitlin to express herself fully.

You can watch the making of Get Well Soon on my blog.

painterly portrait
detail image
painterly portrait
detail image