On September 23rd, the San Bruno Branch Office held a ribbon-cutting mixer highlighting the newly designed office. We had San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane in attendance (seen above cutting the red ribbon) as well as the Chamber of Commerce and a number of staff.
Priscilla Frank Arts Writer, The Huffington Post
Judith Scott’s sculptures look like oversized cocoons or nests. They begin with regular objects ― a chair, a wire hanger, an umbrella, or even a shopping cart ― which are swallowed up whole by thread, yarn, cloth and twine, swathed as frenetically as a spider mummifies its prey.
The resulting pieces are tightly wound bundles of texture, color and shape ― abstract and yet so intensely corporeal in their presence and power. They suggest an alternate way of seeing the world, not based on knowing but on touching, taking, loving, nurturing and eating whole. Like a wildly wrapped package, the sculptures seem to possess some secret or meaning that can’t be accessed, save for an energy that radiates outward; the mysterious comfort of knowing that something is truly unknowable.
Judith and Joyce Scott were born on May 1, 1943, in Columbus, Ohio. They were fraternal twins. Judith, however, carried the extra chromosome of Down Syndrome and couldn’t communicate verbally. Only later, when Judith was in her 30s, was she properly diagnosed as deaf. “There are no words, but we need none,” Joyce wrote in her memoir Entwined, which tells the confounding story of her and Judith’s life together. “What we love is the comfort of sitting with our bodies near enough to touch.”
As a kid, Joyce and Judith were wrapped up in their own secret world, full of backyard adventures and made-up rituals whose rules were never said out loud. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Joyce explained that during her youth, she wasn’t aware that Judith had a mental disability, or even that she was, in some way, different.
“She was just Judy to me,” Joyce said. “I didn’t think of her as different at all. As we got older, I started realizing that people in the neighborhood treated her differently. That was my first thought, that people treated her badly.”
When she was 7 years old, Joyce awoke one morning to find Judy gone. Her parents had sent Judy to a state institution, convinced she had no prospects for ever living a conventional, independent life. Undiagnosed as deaf, Judy was assumed to be far more developmentally disabled than she was ― “uneducable.” So she was removed from her home in the middle of the night, rarely to be seen or spoken of by her family again. “It was a different time,” Joyce said with a sigh.
When Joyce went with her parents to visit her sister, she was horrified at the conditions she encountered at the state institution. “I’d find rooms full of children,” she wrote, “children with no shoes, sometimes with no clothes. Some of them are on chairs and benches, but mostly they are lying on mats on the floor, some with their eyes rolling, their bodies twisted and twitching.”
In Entwined, Joyce chronicles in vivid detail her memories entering adolescence without Judith. “I worry that Judy might be forgotten completely if I don’t remember her,” she writes. “Loving Judy and missing Judy feel almost like the same thing.” Through her writing, Joyce ensures that her sister’s painful and remarkable story will not be forgotten, ever.
Joyce recounts the details of her early life with startling accuracy, the kind that makes you question your ability to render your own life story with any sort of coherence or verisimilitude. “I just have a really good memory,” she explained over the phone. “Because Judy and I lived in such an intense physical, sensate world, things were kind of burned into my being much more strongly than if I spent a lot of time with other kids.”
As young adults, the Scott sisters continued living their separate lives. Their father passed away. Joyce got pregnant while in college and gave the child up for adoption. Eventually, while speaking on the phone with Judy’s social worker, Joyce learned that her sister was deaf.
“Judy living in a world without sound,” Joyce wrote. “And now I understand: our connection, how important it was, how together we felt each piece of our world, how she tasted her world and seemed to breathe in its colors and shapes, how we carefully observed and delicately touched everything as we felt our way through each day.”
Not long after that realization, Joyce and Judy were reunited, permanently, when Joyce became Judy’s legal guardian in 1986. Now married and a mother of two, Joyce brought Judith into her Berkeley, California, home. Although Judith had never displayed much interest in art before, Joyce decided to enroll her in a program called Creative Growth in Oakland, a space for adult artists with developmental disabilities.
From the minute Joyce entered the space, she could sense its singular energy, founded upon the urge to create without expectation, hesitation or ego. “Everything radiates its own beauty and an aliveness that seeks no approval, only celebrates itself,” she wrote. Judith tried out various media introduced to her by the staff ― drawing, painting, clay and wood sculpture ― but expressed interest in none.
One day in 1987, however, fiber artist Sylvia Seventy taught a lecture at Creative Growth, and Judith began to weave. She started by scavenging random, everyday objects, anything she could get her hands on. “She once grabbed someone’s wedding ring, and my ex-husband’s paycheck, things like that,” Joyce said. The studio would let her use nearly anything she could grab ― the wedding ring, however, went back to its owner. And then Judith would weave layer upon layer of strings and threads and paper towels if nothing else was available, all around the core object, allowing various patterns to emerge and dissipate.
“The first piece of Judy’s work I see is a twinlike form tied with tender care,” Joyce writes. “I immediately understand that she knows us as twins, together, two bodies joined as one. And I weep.” From then on, Judith’s appetite for art-making was insatiable. She worked for eight hours a day, engulfing broomsticks, beads, and broken furniture in webs of colored string. In lieu of words, Judith expressed herself through her radiant hulks of stuff and string, bizarre musical instruments whose sound couldn’t be heard. Along with her visual language, Judith spoke through dramatic gestures, colorful scarves, and pantomimed kisses, which she would generously bestow on her completed sculptures as if they were her children.
Before long, Judith became recognized at Creative Growth and far beyond for her visionary talent and addictive personality. Her work has since been shown in museums and galleries around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, the American Folk Art Museum and the American Visionary Art Museum.
In 2005, Judith passed away at 61 years old, quite suddenly. On a weekend trip with Joyce, while lying in bed alongside her sister, she simply stopped breathing. She had lived 49 years beyond her life expectancy, and spent nearly all of the final 18 making art, surrounded by loved ones, supporters and adoring fans. Before her final trip, Judith had just finished what would be her last sculpture, which, strangely, was all black. “It was so unusual she would create a piece with no color,” Joyce said. “Most of us who knew her thought it as a letting go of her life. I think she related to colors in the way all of us do. But who knows? We could not ask.”
This question is interwoven throughout Joyce’s book, repeated again and again in distinct yet familiar forms. Who was Judith Scott? Without words, can we ever know? How can a person who faced unknowable pain alone and in silence, respond only, unimaginably, with generosity, creativity and love? “Judy is a secret and who I am is a secret, even to myself,” Joyce writes.
Scott’s sculptures, themselves, are secrets, impenetrable heaps whose dazzling exteriors distract you from the reality that there’s something underneath. We will never know the thoughts that ran through Judith’s mind while she spent 23 years alone in state institutions, or the feelings that pulsed through her heart as she picked up a spool of yarn for the first time. But we can see her gestures, her facial expressions, the way her arms would fly through the air to properly nestle a chair in its fair share of tattered cloth. And perhaps that’s enough.
“Having Judy as a twin has been the most incredible gift of my life,” Joyce said. “The only time I felt a kind of absolute happiness and a sense of peace was in her presence.”
Joyce currently works as an advocate for people with disabilities, and is engaged in establishing a studio and workshop for artists with disabilities in the mountains of Bali, in Judith’s honor. “My strongest hope would be that there are places like Creative Growth everywhere and people who have been marginalized and excluded would be given the opportunity to find their voice,” she said.
Ryan Grenoble Reporter, The Huffington Post
Lately, during the many nights Marieke Vervoort spends awake and in pain, two things have been crossing her mind: gold medals and death.
In a perfect world, she might have both soon.
The 37-year-old Belgian Paralympic champion has an incurable degenerative spinal disease, one that causes unimaginable pain. Pain so great she’s considering euthanasia after the Rio Games, which will be her final competition.
During the 2012 Games in London, Vervoort won gold in the 100m wheelchair sprint and silver in the 200m.
“Everybody sees me laugh with my gold medal, but no one sees the dark side,” Vervoort told the French newspaper Le Parisien, in comments translated to English by The Advertiser.
“I suffer greatly, sometimes sleeping only 10 minutes a night ― and still go for the gold,” she said. “Rio is my last wish. I train very hard even if I have to fight day and night against my illness. I hope to finish my career on a podium in Rio.”
In 2002 ― two years after Vervoort contracted the rare disease and ended up paralyzed ― Belgium implemented what’s been termed “the world’s most liberal law” for physician-assisted suicide. In 2014, the country extended the right to terminally ill children of any age.
“After Rio, I will stop my sports career, I want to see what life brings me and I will try to enjoy the finest moments,” Vervoort told the Daily Express.
“I have a bucket list, including stunt flying, and I have started thinking about euthanasia.”
Vervoort isn’t certain yet if that’s her path, but she does seem to have a pretty specific image of what it might look like.
“My funeral, it’s not going to be in a church. It’s not going to be with some coffee and some cake,” she told France 2, as translated to English by The Independent. “But I want everybody to have a glass of champagne and to say, ‘Cheers, Marieke. All the best. You had a good life. Now you are in a better place.”
Per Bleacher Report, Vervoort’s first race of the 2016 Games will be Friday in the 400m.
The 2016 Disabilities Art Showcase is co-sponsored by
The San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities and the San Mateo County Arts Commission. This Art Showcase is open to artists with disabilities who live in the County of San Mateo.
Artists are encouraged to submit 2-dimensional
artwork and photography that exemplifies their
personal views of the world. Only ONE (1) entry
may be submitted per artist.
Fifty (50) pieces of artwork by artists with disabilities will be on display during
the month of October 2016, in celebration of “Disabilities Awareness Month” Artwork by qualified artists with disabilities will be
accepted on a first-come basis.
Artwork will be exhibited on the main floor at the
Caldwell Gallery 400 County Center in Redwood City
from October 4 to October 27.
For ENTRY FORMS and RULES please contact Craig McCulloh
San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities
(650) 573-2480 or 711 CA Relay
July 25, 2015, 05:00 AM By Jeanita Lyman Daily Journal - See more at: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2015-07-25/peninsula-museum-of-art-begins-receptions-for-mobility-impaired/1776425147345.html#sthash.MY5WK6ub.dpuf
Bay Area native Richard Roth never considered art to be his forte. However, when he was encouraged to visit the Peninsula Museum of Art by his former neighbor, who volunteered there, he was quickly recruited to volunteer himself and has become a fixture of the organization.
“I finally came over and then I met Ruth,” Roth said, referring to museum’s Executive Director Ruth Waters. “She was telling me that they needed volunteers, so after about a month or so, I’d been promoted from a backup deal to a co-chairman. So the promotion’s come fast.”
Although the museum’s facilities have been updated to meet the most recent ADA regulations, the crowded receptions posed a challenge for Roth, who found that it was difficult to maneuver in a scooter through crowds of people.
“We had a reception at the end of May and there was over a hundred people in here,” Roth said. “I remember I had to go from the desk to the restroom, and when there’s a hundred people stuffed in the deal there, it’s very difficult to get around. It’s just too crowded. The building is just too small.”
The idea to have a day set aside for people with mobility challenges came about as a result. As of last Tuesday, the museum and studios will open their doors for a second opening reception on the Tuesdays after their new exhibits debut. Although the gallery is accessible to everyone during its regular hours, the Tuesday receptions offer a less crowded and more relaxed option for mobility-impaired visitors.
“They want to look at it and then they want to stare at it and everything,” Roth said. “When you have too many people in here you just can’t do that.”
Waters said all it took was a little extra planning and consideration for the Tuesday reception. Placards and fliers were placed lower to be accessible to people in wheelchairs, and arrangements were made with their upstairs neighbors to use their front door, making the studios on the second floor accessible without an elevator.
Tuesday’s event attracted a small but enthusiastic group from Aegis Assisted Living in South San Francisco. The small turnout allowed them to take their time and enjoy the art in a relaxed environment.
“I noticed all the people who came today stayed about an hour,” Roth said. “They’re not rushed and they don’t have to worry about getting out of the way of other people and everything.
Aegis Assisted Living Director Ann Marie Andrez had arranged a trip to the museum for her residents before, and was excited that they’d have more opportunities to access a rich cultural experience so close to home.
“I met Ruth the first time when we came here, I think it was two months ago, three months ago,” Andrez said. “We’d never seen anything like it.”
The Peninsula Museum of Art changes exhibits about every two months and its next opening will be in September. Visit http://www.peninsulamuseum.org for the latest details on their next exhibit and upcoming events.
Bahar Gholipour Senior Writer, The Huffington Post
A brain-controlled robotic suit has helped eight patients with severe spinal cord injuries recover some of their neurological function, scientists revealed Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.
After 12 months of training in a lab, some of the participants started to regain sensations below the point of their spinal cord injury, and others also regained some muscle movement, according to the findings.
“As you can imagine, this is for us a very important milestone,” said Dr. Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. “Nobody ever imagined that one day, we will be talking about the possibility of using brain-machine interface to induce partial neurological recovery in patients who have been diagnosed as having complete spinal cord injury.”
The robotic suit that the participants used consists of an exoskeleton that is guided by brain activity picked up by electrodes placed on the scalp. Signals from sensors in the lining of the exoskeleton travel to users’ forearms, where they still have sensation, so that they can receive some form of sensory feedback as they learn to walk with the exoskeleton.
The system also makes use of a virtual reality environment that enables the user to practice moving an avatar as they imagine walking.
The amount of neurological improvement the participants experienced is not enough to allow them to walk unassisted, but it can improve their quality of life, the researchers said.
“For almost a decade, [the patients] had remained on the most severe classification of spinal cord injury. By the end of 2014, half of these patients had to be reclassified as being partial paraplegic,” Nicolelis said in a press briefing.
Experts not involved in the study were excited by the findings.
“This is very cutting edge,” said Ela Plow, researcher at Cleveland FES Center and assistant professor at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner College of Medicine. “Telling the patient that they are completely injured is a very difficult process, because that means almost telling them that they have no potential for recovery. But then they took these patients and gave them long-term retraining through a mix of techniques and realized that they could generate a process of partial recovery. That was very promising.”
Plow emphasized, however, that a lot of work remains to be done before such a complex intervention can be used in the clinic. “This is practical within a lab setting, but it may be difficult to translate this into the clinic right away,” she said.
Edelle Field-Fote, a professor at Emory University School of Medicine and the director of spinal cord injury research at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, shared that view: “From the perspective of realistic clinical application, the time, equipment, technical expertise required to do this 12-month intervention puts it out of reach of real-world clinical practice.”
However, the findings provide scientists and physicians with several takeaways, as well as some key questions to explore further. For example, would a longer training period give patients in the clinic as much benefit as the patients in this study? Should doctors start to incorporate VR into the traditional methods they use with patients?
“It provides us with a window into what we can start thinking about for our clinics,” Plow explained.
Going from zero to some functioning is rare in cases of severe spinal cord injury that are classified as “complete,” meaning that there’s a complete disconnect in the nerves of the spine at the level of injury. But it’s not unheard of.
Previous research has shown that in many cases of complete spinal cord injury, some nerves may survive the original trauma. These remaining nerves may have the potential to respond to training and recover some function.
The new findings are consistent with those of other labs and case reports that “have shown that with intensive training, it is possible to regain some walking function, even after very severe injury,” Field-Fote said.
Nicolelis and his colleagues believe that the intensive training may have helped reorganize the remaining neural connections in these patients.
“We might have triggered a process of reorganization in the cortex and spinal cord of these patients ― what we normally refer to as plasticity,” Nicolelis said. “We may have rekindled these remaining nerves to be able to send messages from the brain of the patients to the periphery.”
Mind-Controlled Artificial BodiesBrain-machine interfaces are at the forefront of attempts to restore mobility to people with various forms of paralysis. Over the past few years, these attempts have included outfitting several patients with chips in their brains and robotic arms, and even restoring the sense of touch from a prosthetic hand. But the advances are still confined to the lab.
The new study is part of a long-term endeavor called the Walk Again Project, an international collaboration between researchers in Brazil, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. Two years ago, the researchers demonstrated the brain-controlled exoskeleton at the 2014 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Sao Paolo, Brazil. There, with some help to stand upright, Juliano Pinto, a paralyzed person wearing the exoskeleton, kicked the first ball.
During training after the demonstration, “We started realizing the patients were experiencing an improvement in their neurological examinations,” Nicolelis said. “They started regaining sensitivity below the level of the lesion and started exhibiting voluntary movements.”
Seven of the eight patients in the study had what’s known as a Grade A spinal cord injury, meaning they had a complete lack of motor and sensory function below the level of injury. After the training, three of them saw enough neurological improvement to be reclassified to Grade C, which is reserved for patients who can show some voluntary muscle movement below the level of injury. Another patient with a Grade B injury was also reclassified to Grade C.
It’s not clear why the four other participants didn’t respond as significantly to the training. Also unclear is the exact mechanism underlying the patients’ partial neurological recovery.
Future research should focus on identifying the factors that contributed to better outcomes in certain patients, Plow said. That way, physicians can potentially identify which patients with complete spinal cord injuries have the best chance of partial neurological recovery.
While disability has been gaining attention throughout the course of this election cycle, I believe more can be done to focus on key issues that affect the disability community. As such, my goal in creating this video was to hold creators of all political ads and all who are involved in campaigns accountable to include disability rights in a meaningful way in their messaging. We need to be talking about substantial topics that affect all people with disabilities, especially people whose disability identity intersects with other minority identities – issues including employment, affordable and accessible housing, Social Security, mental health care, the incarceration of people with disabilities, subminimum wage… as you can tell, there are so many crucial issues
There is so much at stake for people with disabilities this election, and so while this video is meant to hold people accountable, it is also intended to propel conversations and encourage both candidates and voters with and without disabilities to recognize the importance of disability issues. It’s time to ask the questions and have the conversations about disability that really matter
Emily Ladau | Rooted in Rights Storyteller
For more info on Rooted in Rights, click HERE
Blind Music Academy Offering Free Concerts in August
In its third year, LightHouse’s summer Music Academy grows and expands. With an emphasis on composition, performance and learning to read and write music in braille for musicians who are blind or have low vision and are ages 16 to 24, our talent pool and ambition continues to grow. This year we’re excited to host students from the United States, Mexico and Canada. And with the opening in May of the LightHouse’s state-of-the-art San Francisco facility, Blind Music Academy will now be held both in the city and the country.
Each year Blind Music Academy culminates with a performance by our blind students, and this time around the group has announced that they will perform not once but three times, with additional concerts in both downtown Napa and San Francisco. Experience the power of Music Academy by joining us at one of these three, free concerts:
Blind Music Academy Summer Tour Dates
Friday, August 5 – Covenant Presbyterian Church, 7:30 p.m.
1226 Salvador Ave, Napa, CA 94558
Saturday, August 6 – Enchanted Hills Camp, 4:00 p.m., with dinner following.
3410 Mt Veeder Rd, Napa, CA 94558
Tuesday, August 9 – LightHouse for the Blind, 5:30 p.m., with reception following.
1155 Market Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco 94103
Each concert is free. For those attending the concert at Enchanted Hills Camp, we are requesting a donation if you wish to join us for dinner after the show. Please RSVP for all concerts to Tony Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Blind Music Academy
Enchanted Hills Camp has paired up with Bill McCann, founder and president of Dancing Dots Braille Music Technology. Bill McCann pioneered this specialized music academy model both in Canada and in the United States. Music Academy is for musicians who are blind or have low vision between the ages of 16 to 24 years old who are serious about music or might be thinking of entering the profession. This academy introduces students to using non-visual techniques to compose music, read the works of others, learn performance skills and gain the capacity to compete for and win employment in the music field.
This year’s Music Academy session is full. If you have questions about next year’s session, please contact Taccarra Burrell at email@example.com or 415-694-7318.
Madeline Diamond Intern, HuffPost Video
Ashley Greenhalgh got an exciting surprise on her 21st birthday: a promise ring from her boyfriend Danny Griffiths.
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