He didn’t exactly show up on time. Jim, my newest client, got lost driving to my studio from Dublin yesterday, and we had to do the “Where are you now?” “Can you find your way to 880 and then 980 from E.14th?” “Now turn right onto W. Grand.” connecting via cell phones, Jim, hands free, of course.
Eventually, he pulled into the off-street parking lot of my building in West Oakland. We were both smiling as he maneuvered himself out of the driver’s seat, first placing his newfangled cane against his new black Audi, then swinging his legs out in order to gain balance and then up he stood, putting on his back pack and walking with only that cane up to the freight entrance of 2200 Adeline.
I was stunned.
The last time we saw each other, not even a month ago, he came to my studio to discuss our working together on a 2 D project to depict his life, and he was on two crutches, walking very slowly and deliberately - what most would label ‘disabled.’ After his life threatening motorcycle accident when his leg was almost completely torn off, the doctors who reattached it weren’t sure he’d ever walk again. But Jim apparently is out to prove them wrong. Now he walks with a slight limp using this new cane – a huge stride ahead in his recovery.
Yesterday we began our work together – looking through old magazines to find images that somehow resonate with Jim, illustrate something about his life before the accident, about the accident itself and his life as it is now. This will be the theme of the 2D triptych I plan to create for him, which will eventually hang in his bedroom. He said at our first meeting several months ago, he wanted a piece of art he would see first thing when he woke up which would remind him of where he’d been and how far he’s come.
By the way, Jim was a police officer before the accident.
Having worked and taught in so many varied settings over the years, from an all male secondary school in Uganda, East Africa to art centers for disabled adults in Stockton and Richmond, CA, to inside the state prison in San Quentin, nothing much surprises me these days about how art can nourish, can nurture, can inspire, can heal a wounded body or soul.
And me? I am all at once jazzed, humbled, excited, delighted, and inspired about this new project – and not surprisingly. More as it happens.