MSCOD’s ADA 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Minnesota History Center, 7-26-2015
Pastel on Paper, 18×24”
ARTIST: Shell Kelley
On July 26th, 2015, hundreds of people gathered at the Minnesota History Center to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visual artists, musicians, and other performers living with a wide range of different disabilities were there to showcase their work. Papa Diop, a Djembe drummer and artisan from Senegal who lives with mental health issues, was one such performer whose bright, friendly presence caught my attention. The fiery reds, oranges and yellows that make up the image represent the spark of creative inspiration, which discriminates against no one and connects us all to one another on a level that runs deep beneath what we see on the surface. The word “Djembe” means “everyone gather together”. I found Papa Diop to be a wonderful embodiment of this spirit of community and inclusion, as anyone who wished to join him in drumming was encouraged and welcomed to do so. This painting was created during Papa’s performance on stage, as well as during an impromptu drum circle which he led in the lobby afterward.