A state summit with the goal of making the arts more accessible to people with disabilities will be held in Bowling Green on March 30.
One Bowling Green artist, Michael Dixon, discovered that a disability can sometimes can steer a person onto their path in life. He found out he had dyslexia when he was in elementary school. Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it difficult to read.
Dixon says he used to joke around when he was asked to read out loud in class, to cover up the difficulty he was having.
“I got teased a lot, but it really didn’t bother me. But I found out when I was in high school, doing artwork kept me focused on a lot of things. It kept me calm. It kept me focused on the pictures that I’m doing.”
In high school, Dixon had an inspirational art teacher who encouraged him to be serious about his talent for drawing portraits. He said says it’s important for anyone with a disability to let their creativity help them rise above the challenge.
“Just be yourself. You know, if you’re an artist, your artwork calms you down. It focuses on a lot of things. It shows you that dyslexia is just a word to me.”
He says dyslexia didn’t interfere with his drawing or his ability to focus on his art. He has channeled his skill in pastel and pencil portraits into a lifelong pursuit. His recent exhibit at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center was a collection of portraits of inspirational African-Americans, including Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali and Billie Holiday. It also includes Dixon’s favorite portrait - the one he did of his father, who was an Air Force photographer.
Dixon is a registered artist with VSA Kentucky, an organization that encourages inclusion through artistic expression. VSA Kentucky is one of the groups hosting the Cultural Accessibility Summit.