Riva Lehrer

Portrait of Singer Nomy Lamm
charcoal on paper
44 x 30 in.

“Disability is a kind of billboard. In contemplating the effects that disability has on an individual, we are given a magnified view into the mechanisms that form cultural attitudes around the human body. We all know that the appearance of a person’s body shapes the contours of a person’s life. People who are visibly “other” often must navigate a maze of prejudice and assumption that can reduce their humanity to the level of a caricature.

Figurative art has allowed me to investigate the tension between body and biography. My own disability gives me the perspective of an insider, which differs from the voyeur’s position that has been the usual vantage point on physical difference (i.e. Arbus or Witkin). All these portraits are collaborative works that are constructed through a lengthy interview process. The subjects and I work together to try to transform the way the disabled are seen, and the ways we see ourselves…”

Ms. Lehrer was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1958. She attended the University of Cincinnati and the School of the Art Institute. Her work is represented by Printworks Gallery in Chicago. Ms. Lehrer has been on faculty at the School of the Art Institute and the University of Chicago at Illinois, and is a frequent visiting artist at many universities and conferences. She is currently Curator of Fine Art at Access Living of Chicago.

© Riva Lehrer