I love superheroes. Think about their premise: people who are made different physically, through either birth or accident must grapple with how their difference will be seen within the world and whether or not to live hidden from it or to use it for the greater good. People who know me (and listen to me) will be the first to tell you that I cant stand the idea that disabled people only exist to make others feel better, but with that said, I cant help but draw some parallels. The entire premise of the ABC show Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. is that inhumans (or those in possession of powers) must choose between living as they are despite the fears and judgments of their society or be cured and assimilate into society. Regardless of where you stand on the idea of being cured (a post for a completely different time), the themes that are addressed in the superhero films I love to watch resonate with me.
This is why I was pumped to see the work of Mike Mort on Twitter. He fashioned the heroes we know and love into the disabled people we encounter every day. What strikes me most about his pieces is that fact that they speak to disabled people. Period. When we hear of moving work from disabled artists, it is mostly turned outward and aggressively marketed for the sole purpose of able bodied people. The heroes Mort creates is body positivity just for us.
year old from Syracuse NY living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Mort says that his activism began with writing, blogging and tweeting about his interests in politics and social justice. He became involved early on with the #CripTheVote movement and even designed their logo. He credits the far reaching nature of social media with connecting him to some truly wonderful activists and disabled peers.
Mike has always been artistic, “As a child I loved to draw, but eventually lost the ability to do so because of diminished strength. Lately, however, I have sort of rediscovered this love of mine through technology. It started with the simple idea of reclaiming the accessibility logo and turning it into characters I personally love.”
Met with an enthusiastic reception online, Mike decided to open an online store to sell his pieces in the form of shirts you can purchase, here.
When reflecting on the body positivity his work evokes for, Mike says that his identity as a disabled person is constantly developing. His art has made me proud of the disabled community and I can’t help but wonder how it might have impacted me as a teen so, I asked him what he would say if given the opportunity to speak with his younger self. “I would tell myself to be proud of who you are, love the person you are: body and soul. Don’t hide from being disabled, embrace it. The body you were given may not work or look the way others’ do, but it is part of who you are and makes you unique. Everyday may not be easy, yet each day is yours and you have value.”
Follow @MikeMort in Twitter and don’t forget to buy his work, here.