Chicago Tribune: Artist Riva Lehrer paints portraits of people with disabilities

UC alumna is a leading activist of disability culture

University of Cincinnati alumna Riva Lehrer is an artist, writer and curator whose work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body, especially in explorations of cultural depictions of disability.

Lehrer fell in love with portraiture as a student at UC, where she studied fine/studio arts in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. She came to recognize “a mutual transformation” at work in every portrait.

“When I am in a museum and read the tags next to a work," she told the Chicago Tribune, "I wonder about the relationship between artist and subject, and usually there is little of that history explained — what it was like between them, what it was like to sit for them — and based on my experience, the real product of a portrait is always that relationship.”

Lehrer, who has spina bifida, now paints portraits of others with disabilities would "the mock heroics, the 'freak show’ or the toxic staring."

Read more about her work in the Tribune and Yahoo News.

Featured image at top: Portrait artist and author Riva Lehrer photographed on the roof of her home in Chicago on Feb. 19, 2021. Photo/Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune