I was recently asked by a friend to enter work in a group show, the show is based loosely upon the theme of disability.  Given my friend had fashioned a lavishly eccentric wheelchair as the centerpiece of the show, I figured I had some creative wiggle room.

My interest was in exploring the very notion of disability and society’s need to “fix” the disabled. This I felt to be a touchy subject, one in which I hadn’t any authority to assert as I am not disabled. I do have a very dear friend who spent much of her life with a disability which later in her life was rectified by surgical procedures. But from listening to my friend I gathered the stigmatization of her condition and the  (over? ) protective concern her parents felt for her, imposed limitations ,physical and emotional, far beyond the constraints of her actual condition.

 In this image I wished to depict the disabled as a beautiful youth who lacked the  conventional wings of his society. I also  wanted to express the complexities of society by using harpy like figures, uncomfortable, a bit haughty, awkwardly watching as he falters.  I have found myself in this position, it has only been with maturity that I have found the will to  greet a wheelchair bound person in the eye. That is a sad fact.

In this image the youth does stumble, his prosthetic feathers have done him little good. Has our attempt to fix him only broken him?

I haven’t clarified all of my thoughts concerning this image or the topic, it is still evolving. Please consider Icarus to be an evolving discussion within my head.



watercolor and gouache on paper

18 by 24 inches


detail of Icarus and his soul-spirit


detail of Society

Of course it isn’t much of a stretch to consider Icarus to be an allegory  of other folks that make society squirm, gays, women, people of color, the list goes on an on.

Note to self : stop pigeon-holing.

Until next time, take care,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

7 thoughts on “Icarus”

  1. HI Leonard I think you have a pretty good handle on your whole approach – in what is a very touchy subject. One of my twin daughters has cerebral palsy – and I have struggled everyday with trying to suppress the ‘overprotectiveness’ that a parent naturally feels (not very successfully). I think you are brave to admit that you have only just become comfortable with looking a wheelchair bound person
    in the eye 🙂 My experience as a person behind the wheelchair has always been interesting – often I feel that both my daughter and myself have grown horns and that people often point and whisper behind their hands. But you are absolutely right about icarus being an allegory for any minority group – and disability is only one of many. Great painting – hope you get a place in the show – good luck.

    1. Well thank you, what you say really moves me and means a lot to me.
      It was in fact a young fellow with cerebral palsy that forced me recognize how uncomfortable I was just granting common courtesy to everyone. He sat in front of me in a composition class and I could no longer ignore my anxious hesitation, I was by situation forced to interact and face my self- consciousness . He was a wonderful fellow and I really enjoyed his company as a study mate.
      I don’t think society as a whole means ill but is more likely self conscious like we are on a whole slew of issues, race comes first to mind. That doesn’t excuse the behavior or diminish the consequence.That old WASPy tradition of not talking about something and it will go away has a lasting legacy . I hope we evolve from that position,I think we are; I’m working on it.
      So again thank you for giving me your perspective.

      1. Thanks Leonard – on one hand I do think we are evolving but on the other, the more some people change the more others dig their heels in against change…. little steps 🙂

      2. Hello, I wanted to tell you the painting was accepted and I just shipped it off. It is a juried show, so wish it well!

  2. congratulations, and i’m also crossing my figures, i love the characters here, and found this line very thoughtful and effective: “beautiful youth who lacked the conventional wings of his society”–what a way to describe it! and may he find his own wings!

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