American ceramics artist Shawanda Corbett, who was born without both legs and one arm, shapes clay with one hand.
The African-American artist recently attended the "Lathe and Free Shaping Workshop," organized by the Ceramics and Glass Department of Kastamonu University Fine Arts and Design Faculty. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Corbett said though she was born this way, she has overcome all the challenges instead of surrendering. Currently, she is pursuing a doctoral degree at Oxford University.
She said that she has been using ceramics as a medium since her undergraduate years.
Noting she likes difficult things, Corbett said: "In my freshman year, I was in the paintings department. We had a summer course on ceramics. The difficulties I had with shaping clay pushed me further to pursue ceramics. Whatever I have learned in the fields of film, photography and art philosophy, I try to transfer to my ceramic works."
"It is very difficult to do something with one hand that people usually do with both hands. My professors also faced some difficulties while teaching me because they had never worked with some who has only one hand. Other people could learn much easier than me. But, I worked very hard and overcame all the difficulties," she said.
Positive attitude in Turkey
Talking about the positive reception she got in Turkey and in Kastamonu, Corbett said: "I have lived in the U.S. and the U.K. I have witnessed a lot of discrimination and hate speech towards people with disabilities there. But, in Turkey, I have only got positive receptions. No one asked me anything about my physical condition. It was not a problem for anyone."
"I wasn't given any opportunity in the U.S. or the U.K. to organize a workshop, as they thought I would not be able to manage it myself. But, I am really happy to have received this opportunity in Turkey. I want to thank everyone who contributed to the workshop. I will return to the U.S. with very good feelings," she said.
Corbett added that everyone can face difficulties in their lives but the condition of people with disabilities is more difficult. "No matter if the society accepts it or not, no matter if people believe in you or not, do not let anybody tell that you cannot do something. Do not expect them to support you, as well. What you want to do is wait for you. You can do it as long as you want it. I felt this energy here. Turkish people always want to give something. It is in their character. I am not talking about physical gifts only. They are good at expressing emotions and love," she said.
In the future, Corbett wants to continue working as a freelance artist, and train people with physical disabilities in art.