On Pins and Needles Accessible Burlesque & the Art of Adornment

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on December 13, 2021 # Lifestyle

Magdalina and Delilah By Guest Blogger: Magdalena Truchan

“Why aren’t there any interesting and modern representations of disabled people in art? I want to see women portrayed as people who are not only sexually desirable, but stylish, much like the mid-twentieth century pinups I collect.”

Magdalena Truchan, an artist, avid knitter, blogger and resident of the Hudson Valley, NY, and a paraplegic due to a car accident, posed this question to her illustrator friend, Delilah Blue Flynn.

A few weeks after that pivotal conversation, Delilah presented Magdalena with a magnificent marker and ink illustration depicting her as a modern-day pinup on wheels.

Art from ExhibitAfter posting the artwork on social media, it became apparent that this artistic expression touched many and made an impact on social media. The two friends decided to expand upon this concept by creating a series of illustrations depicting women with disabilities who are not defined by limitations.

They presented Delilah’s illustrations to the Garner Arts Center, a repurposed 19th-century textile mill turned into an arts and business district in Garnerville, NY (35 miles north of NYC.) The program director, Jesse Heffler, and Jared Rodriguez, a board member, immediately recognized that this project was distinctive in raising awareness about the intersection of art, sexuality and disability in the local community.

Delilah and Magdalena wanted to include Magdalena’s hand-knitted, one-of a-kind, zero-waste and size-inclusive wraps. Her in-depth knowledge of fashion history and trends led her to work with multi-media textiles, creating works of art via knitting. These bespoke pieces are designed for people with limited mobility. Special customized handmade button closures make these pieces not only adaptive, but also head-turners and future heirlooms.

Garner Arts’ newest performing arts building, Building 35, is a brick-lined contemporary exhibition space conducive to this project and appropriately so in a former textile mill.

Art from ExhibitOver the course of four months, Delilah produced twenty-two, 13”x19” prints portraying women of various disabilities ranging from paraplegia, quadriplegia, deafness and blindness.

Magdalena hand-knitted ten unique wraps in varied colorways and textures. Upon researching mannequins to display the wraps, she discovered the Daniel and Trudy Regan Foundation. This foundation recently hosted an exhibit of one hundred individually painted mannequins by local artists. The mannequins were salvaged from stores closed due to the pandemic. Thank you to Daniel Regan for his enthusiasm and for graciously loaning these mannequins.

The exhibit “On Pins and Needles: Accessible Burlesque & the Art of Adornment”, will have its opening reception on Saturday, December 18 from 3-7 pm. It will be open Saturdays, 3-7 pm until February 5. Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.

All prints and knitted wraps will be available at the beginning of December 18.

To learn more about Magdalena Truchan and Delilah Blue Flynn, find them on Instagram: @prettycripple and @blueflynn or follow Magdalena’s blog at www.prettycripple.com.

If you would like to attend and learn more about the Garner Arts exhibit, reservations are encouraged.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.