Believe it or not, the reference photos I took of Joe for his portrait took place outside in front of his house on a bitterly cold day. I was looking for light, and the brown winter grass and bare bushes couldn’t be helped. What captivated me was the ease in which Joe could move over the terrain in any direction. When I got back home and looked at the images, the barren winter landscape became irrelevant. Joe and his wheelchair reminded me of Professor X from the X Men movies.
Joe is calm and wise and witty, and had me googling “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” to my regret. He told me he wouldn’t need to write more than a paragraph and he was right:
I am the son of an immigrant fisherman. I am a dad, a son, a brother and fortunate enough to be loved by others. I am the person you pass on the street and pat on the head as a gesture of pity or bless me for being brave. I am not extraordinary. I live under extraordinary circumstances. I’m the kid who dove into a swimming pool and never walked away. I was drafted into a disability rights fight I did not start but am compelled to join. I’m an advocate who fights for basic civil rights for myself and others who haven’t found a voice. I’m trying to leave my part of the world a little better than I found it. I’m just like you.
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