The Artist and Her Art
As an artist, psychologist and academic, Debra’s work focusses upon the personal/social impacts of disability. She uses 2D and 3D art methods to represent the manifestation of dignity in the disability aesthetic. Debra has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions and her work is held in a number of private collections. Debra lectures at Western Sydney University in Humanitarian and Development Studies, her first PhD was in Psychology on the subject of Dehumanization. Debra is currently studying for her second PhD in Visual Arts at Art & Design UNSW, her research focuses upon developing a Critical Disability Aesthetic through the representation of the female dwarf.
‘Little Big Woman’
A Journey of Discovery
A Story of Resilience
‘In the Beginning….’
Pencils, paint and plasticine – I used them all making art when I was a child at school and at home. I loved colour – the primaries and secondaries; and the stronger, brighter and deeper the better. I also loved textures – thick and oozing, running, dripping or watery. The different combinations presented opportunities for experimentation that remain exciting and pleasurable. But despite forays into different media, processes and styles there remained a significant constant in my artwork – the subject – people.
I have always had a fascination with the human condition – faces in particular. My fascination with faces was simple, they were the open page by which to read emotions and reading emotions was important as a matter of survival. It was people’s faces – their expressions – that told me where I stood. Acceptance, rejection, malevolence and mirth are communicated in a fleeting glance or penetrating stare and I have been the subject of them all. But my experience is common to those with an exceptional corporeality, an unusual physical being – disability.
My disability is achondroplasia dwarfism, or what is sometimes referred to as disproportionate dwarfism; or as I like to refer to myself as – ‘Little Big Woman’.
I studied art for my HSC and though I only returned to studying art at a tertiary level much later in my life, I never lost the fascination and pure enjoyment of making images of people.