"This is a painting I did of an ice cream stand in my hometown. It was owned by my neighbor. When I was young, his dog used to wander off and I would find her and bring her home. Then he would take me to the stand in the back of his pick-up truck, and let me in the back to make my own ice cream cone. When Hurricane Irene struck, the giant wooden cone adjacent to the stand's sign was destroyed. My neighbor hired me to rebuild and repaint it, before hanging it back up to attract customers."
- Kendra Rowan
High quality print reproduction for your home or office designed by artists living with homelessness or disabilities.
“Art’s power comes not from the act of creating, but from the gift of sharing one’s creations.”
Boston-based artist, Kendra Rowan lives with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy called Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis. At times, this illness makes art creation physically “quite painful” for her, and even forced her to stop making art altogether for a brief period. With the help of physical therapy and adaptive tools, Kendra has gradually been able to resume her practice.
Kendra’s disability has influenced her artistic style. She describes, “I spend a lot of time being still, and I spend this time studying that which I see.” Using primarily watercolor paint, Kendra aims to capture the interplay between light and shadows that she observes around her. As a lifelong scholar of biology and ecology, Kendra also draws artistic inspiration from nature. She finds peace in spending time outdoors and hopes to share this passion with others through her nature-themed art.
“My greatest pleasure comes from seeing something I do bring a smile to someone else’s face,” Kendra says. At age 14, she began volunteering at soup kitchens and shelters, and has continued volunteer work to the extent that her disability has allowed. Kendra leads a “music hour” at Common Art - a service for individuals within Boston’s poor and homeless communities that provides opportunities for participating in the arts - at which she plays the piano and sings with program participants. She writes, “I want very much to work and to contribute to this world, but I have lost many jobs because of prolonged hospitalizations and disease flares.” For Kendra, art creation provides a means of connecting with others and contributing joy to their lives. “I make art to feel purposeful. I make art to appreciate the world that I see, and to try to share a piece of that appreciation with others.”
Kendra has had difficulties selling her art independently due to issues of disability access. She is hopeful that extra income from ArtLifting will enable her to pay for medical interventions that can improve her quality of life, and help her achieve her dream to continue her studies in biology neuroscience and accessible design.
ArtLifting empowers artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.