Nicole was inspired to create art by her grandmother. While her grandmother died many years ago, a part of her lives on in the paintings she left behind. “We have some of her paintings at my house; a man making pottery, a farmhouse, a truck sitting in front of a house.” These pieces mean a great deal to Nicole, urging her to continue her journey into the world of art.Nicole is affectionately known as Dragon Girl because she loves to paint dragons. She also has developmental disabilities, lives below the poverty line, and takes care of her mother who has multiple sclerosis. She brings an imaginary universe into reality using nothing more than pen and paints. Her unique style, obsessive passion to create, and immersion in fantasy qualify Nicole as an outsider artist. She lives and works outside the mainstream, both in the art world and in society. Yet her paintings allow her to share the shapes and colors and characters she creates with a larger world. Nicole says, “I make art because it’s important to me. I draw dragons with different powers. It makes me feel good when I create my images and they look like the picture.”
On the Move: Independence in Action This video series was funded through the Colorado Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG). Emily vonSwearingen was commissioned to create a photography and digital storytelling project following young people with disabilities as they navigated and explored their environments. Each featured individual has unique transportation challenges they overcome to lead independent, productive and interesting lives. The emphasis of this project, is to demonstrate the value of using the regular bus system and alternate forms of transportation whenever possible to achieve flexibility and spontaneity for getting to work, recreational activities, social events, etc. This project was exhibited by VSA Colorado/Access Gallery in December 2012.