Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Mid-Semester Project

Danika's picture

See pdf and attached image for picture of the work, descriptive caption, and write-up describing my intentions, general process, and inspirations for this work <3

PDF icon Crit. Disability Studies SP2022.pdf41.59 KB
PDF icon IMG_7437.pdf682.74 KB


Justin's picture

I love your project, Danika! This artwork is so impressive and I think you did an amazing job at making an invisible disability appear more visible. The way you contrast various aspects of the painting with each other helps to show how an invisible disability is often latent. For example, it’s interesting how you made the person’s face and the lynx very detailed, but left out the details of the eyes and made the background more abstract. This shows how we think we recognize a person with an invisible disability and often even see the implications of their disability such as the hands showing a person who feels self-constrained, yet we often fail to see the disability itself. The hands do a good job at conveying this self-constrained feeling, and it was what first drew my attention when viewing the image. Something else I noticed about the painting is it being striking that the person does not have irises and pupils while the lynx not having irises and pupils not catching my attention as much. This demonstrates that we are used to othering perceived “beasts” and being okay with not truly seeing them, but we like to assume that we see people, even if we don’t actually see the invisible disability within. The lynx also helps bring the invisible disability to life by showing the beautiful creature behind the person. Finally, I really like the multicolored drips you painted in the background to show the complex, and often dark, feelings that living with an invisible disability can entail. Again, thank you for creating and sharing this really powerful piece. It does a great job at challenging the norms of invisible disabilities.

Lilah's picture

Danika, I am so blown away by your self-portrait. It's so amazing and you are so incredibly talented. I'm not that much of an art person so I really appreciated your description of everything. It really helped me understand its meaning. I think you did such a beautiful job illustrating your feelings and emotions about your disability- especially the invisibility of it and the feelings around that. I also thought your use of the Lynx and the way you painted it were awesome. Your description of it really made me understand the symbolism of it more and I think it's super powerful. 

I love that you didn't plan too much for this piece and just let your creativity flow. I'm a musician and that's the same thing I do when I make music. I write a lot about my own mental struggles and find that the best way to convey what I'm feeling is just going with the flow. I definitely connect with your piece a lot, especially with where you positioned your hands. Overall, this is such an amazing project. 


Caroline's picture


Thank you for sharing this beautiful portrait (and its interpretation)! It is incredibly well-executed—I especially admire the lynx—and I really feel like I see the story you're telling in your artistic choices. Having also confronted the challenge of artistically portraying a mental disability, I was particularly interested to read about how you decided to approach it. Your choice to incorporate multiple avenues of expression—presenting the "realistic" physical tell or expression of holding your chin, depicting certain parts of your body, artistically modifying how your body "looks" to represent an interior experience, and including a metaphorical companion in the image as part of the portrait—allows for a lot of nuance and room for interpretation, which is especially intriguing in a conversation about invisible disability. You clearly put a lot of thought and care into it, and it really worked out!