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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress
Videotape, 1997
Produced, directed, and written by Marion Cajori

For 40 years, Chuck Close has blasted his huge hyper-real images into elemental parts and then reassembled into revealing facial maps. He photographs his subjects, blows up the image, divides it into a detailed grid and then uses colors and patterns to reconstruct the face. Up close the portraits are abstract, a series of tiny paintings filling the squares of the grid. It's a bit like pixilization: The whole indeed is greater than the sum of its parts. Step back, the paintings become magical and sometimes brutal mugshots of Close's family, friends and fellow artists.

Close's drawings, paintings, photographs and prints have been the subject of more than 100 exhibitions in over 20 countries. In this 57-minute documentary, he's wonderfully articulate about his work and his influences. He says he was so empowered by Willem de Kooning that "I was de Kooning." Later, he had to purge the influence as his own artistic identity grew.

Close, 68, has been painting for the last 20 years from a wheelchair. A spinal artery collapse paralyzed him in 1988. Of course as a very successful artist, he feared he would not be able to paint again. While rehabbing at New York's Rusk Institute, an OT set up a studio in the basement so Close could get back to work. His hand function came back; he can hold a brush with a splinted right hand. He still works with huge canvases; motors move them around so Close can paint from his chair. He's still at the top of his game.

In this video, Close talks about his process, his disability, his work style. It's a compelling documentary that includes appearances by contemporary New York artists Leslie Close (his wife), Philip Glass, Mark Greenwold, Alex Katz, Dorothea Rockburne, and Kiki Smith.

It's available by interlibrary loan from the Reeve Paralysis Resource Center library.

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Arts and Creativity (PDF)

Art Therapy StudioProvides therapeutic art programs in a variety of settings so people can benefit from the healing power of art.

Art Promote: Disabled ArtistsExplore thousands of art galleries, museums and artists from around the world. Browse by subject, medium, movement, nationality and more.

Axis Dance CompanyPrepare to leave all your preconceptions at the door — AXIS Dance Company, one of the world's most acclaimed and innovative ensembles of performers with and without disabilities, will change the way you think about the possibilities of the human body forever.

Association of Foot and Mouth Painting ArtistsOffers financial support to develop talents of painters who are accepted.

Disabled Online: Arts & EntertainmentArts and Entertainment Web links are sites that offer ways for individuals with disabilities to display their artistic talents. These clubs and organizations provide opportunities using all kinds of creative and cultural tools to allow individuals to express their artistic side.

Open Door Art StudioColumbus Center for Human Services, Inc. prioritizes health, safety, personal goals, and promotes positive community roles for individuals with disabilities.

VSACreates learning opportunities through the arts for people with disabilities.

Paralysis Resource Center The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

Reeve Foundation Online Paralysis Community Connecting people living with paralysis, families, friends and caregivers so we can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope.

Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.

Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

The information provided in the Paralysis Resource Center was supported by Cooperative Agreement number 1U59DD000838-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Reeve Foundation and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.