Katherine Cavanaugh

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Painting ’15

The hardest thing to admit is that being disabled/chronically ill has meant that my art practice has been forced to take a backseat since I left RISD. I’ve put most of my energy into the struggle to meet my basic needs. I’ve had to leave jobs because I took too many sick days, I’ve been fired for using my cane or “looking tired.” And when I succeed in meeting my basic needs, I put whatever I have left into communist organizing, which I also see as part of my survival. As a disabled, working class woman I’m one of the people that capitalism deems disposable. When I live my life in this pattern, painting starts to seem like a luxury, but it’s not, it’s vital. These days I do a lot of small drawings of my neighbors, family, and comrades, on cardboard or butcher paper, whatever I can find. I like to think that each little portrait is both a gesture of love to its subject and gesture of defiance to systemic oppression.