Heather Black of St. Elmo, 39 years of age, was born with severe congenital cerebral palsy but this has not stopped Heather from creating. Her artwork is created by her, with the help of her mother Nola Black, choosing the colors and placement and then proceeding to move the colors around on the paper. , It is amazing in what she can accomplish with her severe handicap. A selection of fifteen of her latest creations are soon to be exhibited at Flourishes Gallery and Studios at 140 ½ E. Main in downtown Shelbyville, opening Saturday, September 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For a donation to St. Louis Children’s Hospital her work can be taken home. Her work presently adorns offices in Shelbyville, Chicago, Mt. Sterling and as far south as Mississippi. Heather’s interests are wide-ranging, from music, painting, movies and technology to humanitarian issues. Her condition is only physical. She desires to bring color, enjoyment and inspiration to the world. Her mother says that Heather is her mentor.
Heather Black was featured in Scientific American in October 1996, detailing the ability of physically handicapped people who are able to use their body’s electrical signals to run a computer. However, those being exhibited next month at Flourishes are very unique and did not need the sophistication of a computer. What she does need is her paper and paint and her mother, Nola. Not having the motor skills due to her disease, Nola plays a style of music that is in sync with Heather’s mood, then places Heather on a low cot with paper and paint beside her. Heather communicates with her mother indicating the colors and placement on the heavy paper. Then Heather moves the paint with her hand to create a large variety of works, abstract in nature. As with most artists, Heather enjoys the creative process and others enjoy the end product.
Glenda Hyneman has seen Heather paint and said, “I am amazed at what she can create and the positive response I get from Heather during the process and from the many people who view and appreciate her work. It is a unique story of the disability and the ability to create.