My Story

  • Free Marselli

    Illustration ’14

    I’m proud to say that I am abled differently through my experience with depression. Being highly emotionally sensitive has made me predisposed to depression from the time I was about 9 years old, up until now. I almost lost my life to suicide in 2014 due to it. Through my battle with depression, I developed an ability to empathize with people on a level that I would not have been able to, without my scars. I realize now that my emotional sensitivity is my strength, and not a disability.

  • Katherine Cavanaugh

    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.

  • Francisco Moreno

    Painting ’12

    I am a painter and I have Deuteranomaly, a type of red-green color blindness in which the green cones do not detect enough green and are too sensitive to yellows, oranges, and reds. This has led me to create works in which I limit my palette. I may at time use color but in strategic ways.

    I am also a Mexican-born American citizen. I think like many immigrants in America, we have a sense of displacement. We embody two different cultures and social histories, if not more. In my work, I try to collapse the source of imagery and create something that communicates that complexity.

  • Lily Ahree Siegel ’17

    Film Animation and Video

    Being abled differently doesn’t impact my life. It is my life.

    That’s the most straightforward way to explain being an amputee to an able bodied person. Being born with several limb differences set me on a specified path. I was adopted into an American Jewish family after being born in South Korea. I was raised and currently live in Birmingham, Alabama. I went to RISD because of the privileges of my American family. I strive to create honest and personal work because that is what’s most meaningful to me. Why should we create work for others, anyway?