Technology Enables Artist with Cerebral Palsy to Create Hands-Free Works

Curators’ Corner

Technology Enables Artist with Cerebral Palsy to Create Hands-Free Works

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34-year-old Astro Saulter was born with cerebral palsy and has been confined to a wheelchair his whole life, but that doesn’t keep him from creating art.

Technology allows the artist from Negril, Jamaica to paint with his head – yes, paint with his head. EZ-Keys, also used by Stephen Hawking, connects a keyboard and cursor on Saulter’s screen to a switch on the headrest of his wheelchair. In PowerPoint and a vector-based program called Inkscape, Saulter creates bright, charming illustrations inspired by his life in Jamaica – He’s been making art this way for the past 10 years.

In late 2012, Saulter earned his first solo exhibition, “Astro, The Morning Star.” That launched The Astro Project, which was accompanied by a biographical film.

“Without art, it would have been otherwise very difficult to know and to see what is going on his mind,” said Rozi Chung of Studio 174, where Astro’s work was displayed. “He has given hope to many like himself who live with this challenge and also offers inspiration to those who might not have seen art as a vehicle to express themselves when they feel powerless and without hope.”

Saulter says he takes pride in that role.

“No matter who you are or when you come from – even if you have a disability – if you have a dream or a vision of something that you really want to do in life you must face it and challenge that goal head on,” Saulter says.

Saulter was recently featured in the National Gallery of Jamaica’s “10 Emerging Artists” exhibit. See the video below and pictures above for his heartwarming story and artwork.