Featured Article at Women Arts.org
Accessibility & the Healing Power of Art at SWAN Day Allegany County
“It doesn’t pay to conform—listen to your body. Truly living requires equal parts accommodation and celebration.” –Sheila L. Kalkbrenner
"Sheila L. Kalkbrenner, artist and owner of SheilaLynnK Art Studio in upstate New York, is growing SWAN Days Allegany County into a powerful, diverse and truly accessible celebration of women artists. The scope of SWAN Days Allegany Co. is inspiring, with local women artists hosting creative events spanning the entire month of March. Offerings range from an Art Show and Sale, to workshops on rug braiding and tin can folk art, to a Game Night for “artsy families.”
When Kalkbrenner organized her first SWAN Day celebration in 2014, she was inspired by the openness of SWAN Day, and the inherent possibility for inclusion. “I wanted it open to all women artists, working in any media, by whatever inspires them. It can be for women in their 20’s and 30’s who don’t have a place in the art world yet, and also for the strong women already leading our community arts organizations; a place for them to come where we can say ‘thank you—we see the work you do, and we celebrate it today.’”
"Inclusiveness means more to Kalkbrenner than just supporting women—it is also about supporting and uplifting artists with disabilities. A visual artist and arts educator, Kalkbrenner’s life was transformed in 2007 when a medical injury left her with the severe, chronic and debilitating condition Spinal Adhesive Arachnoiditis. As part of her ongoing healing journey, Kalkbrenner now uses art as both a healing tool for herself and as the basis for her larger advocacy efforts."