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This multimedia piece, a wood core that has been painted with nail polish and glazed with resin, is centered on a sign reading “You Don’t Need Legs To Stand Tall”. The sculpture is of a woman from the waist up. She is wearing a red hat with the word "fierce" on it, glasses, red lipstick, earrings, a necklace, and a denim jacket.

“Legs Optional”

Artist: Jennifer Marler, Watertown

Description: This multimedia piece, a wood core that has been painted with nail polish and glazed with resin, is centered on a sign reading “You Don’t Need Legs To Stand Tall”. It is intended as a metaphor, broadly emphasizing the wholeness and abilities of disabled individuals, regardless of specific physical or mental deficiencies.

Artist Statement: She is a “santos” – a statue that, in particular religious traditions, would be created to represent a saint or revered holy person. A santos can include simply a hand, a head, a bust or a whole person. Originally, I created this piece in the image of Brené Brown, a social worker and author who has been a leader in the understanding of shame, vulnerability and human connection. When I became disabled ten years ago, I had initially felt a sense of shame myself – something I gratefully worked through by reading Brené’s books and listening to her TED talks. I created her for a private shrine in my living room. When I heard about the MOD Art Exhibit, I was so excited about the prospect that I decided to develop Brene further. She had helped me overcome my shame and I wanted to share the mantra that arose from that experience. You don’t need legs to stand tall…nor arms…nor working eyes or ears. You don’t need to learn in the same way as anybody else or meet criteria that society frequently imposes. You simply need to realize that YOU ARE ENOUGH and that you bring to the world your own voice, perspective and gifts. Being disabled can mean feeling vulnerable. That can be a gift – encouraging us to present ourselves as we truly are and requiring that we, ourselves, embrace that reality.

About the Artist: I am a 56 year old Canadian who came to the United States 27 years ago. My early career was as a photojournalist for the United Nations, documenting medical programs on the Thai-Cambodian border. I went on to study medicine and became a pediatric plastic surgeon. A decade ago, I developed an aggressive autoimmune arthritis. My disability experience has prompted new directions for me as an author, artist and disability advocate. I am reentering professional life in the area of health policy.

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