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“The Artist” – This is a portrait of my Down Syndrome brother, Christian, drawing figments of his imagination in the air around him, making his magical characters come to life.
“This is Me” is a cellular diagram of DeOndra Dixon’s karyotype (the collection/number of her chromosomes), with different human beings taking the place of each chromosome (the DNA/gene-holders within our cells). This is representative of the karyotype of all people with Down Syndome, specifically Trisomy 21 (always with variations in the 23rd pair of chromosomes depending on a person’s biological sex). People with this genetic condition have an extra chromosome in their 21st pair (totaling 47 chromosomes in total instead of the usual 46 chromosomes in most typical humans). DeOndra is represented as the unique, extra chromosome in her own 21st “pair”.
“The Gymnast” is a portrait of American Down Syndrome gymnast Chelsea Werner, who won the Special Olympics USA Gymnastics Championship four times.
“The Conductor” is a portrait of Hu “Zhou Zhou” Yizhou, a Chinese Down Syndrome orchestra conductor who memorizes entire orchestral pieces and each instruments’ sheet music.
“The Fourth Child” is a portrait of Bill McKercher (1956-1994), a man with Down Syndrome who, separated from his family as a toddler, lived for more than thirty years in one of Canada’s institutional systems for the disabled (See Catherine McKercher’s book Shut Away).
The Sculptor” is a portrait of Judith Scott (1943-2005), an American textile artist with Down Syndrome. From the ages of 7 to 42, she lived in Columbus State Institution, Ohio. From 1987 (when her twin sister Jill took her out of the institution) to her death in 2005, Judith attended the Creative Growth Art Centre in Oakland, California, one of the world’s first artistic non-profit studio spaces for artists with disabilities. There, she was given full freedom to express herself in any which way she so desired, and she chose fibre art as her outlet. In creating her sculptures, Judith took whatever objects she could find and would wrap them in coloured strings and cords to make diverse sculptures of many different shapes and sizes.
“The Living” is a portrait of Tim Guido, dubbed “The Oldenburg Baby”, (1997-2019) who was a German baby born with Down Syndrome who survived a failed, late-term abortion in the 90s. He lived until 21 years of age and benefited greatly from dolphin therapy.
“The Advocate” depicts Marte Wexelsen Goksøyr, a Norwegian actress and public debater with Down Syndrome. She has taken a public stance against selective abortions of babies with Down Syndrome, stating that because of these procedures, people like her are endangered/going extinct.
“Love is Patient and Kind” depicts Tommy (1959-2021) and Maryanne Pilling who were one of the first couples with Down Syndrome to get married in the United Kingdom in 1995. They were married for 25 years until Tommy died of COVID-19 complications in January 2021.
“One of Us” is a portrait of Joey Moss (1963-2020), who was a Canadian dressing room attendant for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Since befriending Wayne Gretzky in the 80s, he held that position for more than 30 years. He passed away in October 2020 of glioblastoma, at the age of 57.