Residents of The Heritage of Green Hills, a healthy living community in Shillington, recently visited Art Ability, a juried art exhibition for artists with disabilities held annually at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Malvern.
One of the Heritage residents, Dee Gorden, 91, was instrumental in founding the exhibition in 1996 when she chaired a Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation committee charged with devising a way to support disabled artists. Gorden has been wheelchair-bound for more than 60 years.
According to Donna M. Phillips, president of Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, Art Ability has grown to be one of the largest and longest-running exhibitions of its kind anywhere in the world. In its 20th year, the exhibition has provided a platform for more than 775 artists with physical, cognitive, hearing and visual impairments to display their talent through their work.
Gorden contracted polio in 1954 when she was pregnant with the third of her four children. “Bill (Gorden’s husband) and I always wanted a big family,” Gorden said, “and I wasn’t going to let the nuisance of being in a wheelchair change our plans.” She has been confined to a wheel chair since then, but has always stayed active, particularly with volunteer activities. Over the years, she has volunteered her time to Bryn Mawr Rehab in the hospital’s recreation-therapy department and has served on the hospital’s board of directors, board of trustees, foundation board and volunteer association board, among other activities. “And, I’ve got a lot left to do,” Gorden said.