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Artist Born Without Hands Honors Late Mother

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Artist Desmond Blair | Image by Black Doctor

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Born without hands, Desmond Blair paints artworks inspired by his late mother.

At birth, Blair was born with a genetic mutation that left him without hands. Between his mother and grandmother, they did not let his handicap be an excuse for lack of greatness. They always encouraged him.


“Your journey is going to be different, and we have to figure this out, and so it was always that mindset of, you know, still expect excellence, but we gotta figure out how to get there,” the 35-year-old told CBS News.

Blair never gave up trying to learn how to navigate the world. He used his mouth and feet but eventually used his arms to learn how to write with a pencil, color with crayons, and hold a paintbrush. When he began sketching and painting, he was inspired by cartoons he watched.

“I watch cartoons, so I wanted to learn how to draw the characters in the cartoons,” says Blair.

One summer, his mother enrolled him in an art program led by Emmanuel Gillespie, who later became Blair’s mentor.

“I think everyone has that creative ability, but he had that passion,” Gillespie said. The art gallery owner coached Blair through honing his craft, and as he learned more about art, Blair had his first art exhibit at Gillespie’s “Pen on Paper” gallery.

Blair’s collection, called In The Garden, depicts various imaginings of women as the biblical figure Eve.

“I think for me it’s just that he sees us, he sees us, and he appreciates us, and he translates that onto canvas so all of us can see,” said gallery co-owner and Gillespie’s wife, Valerie.

Now Blair is starting his next collection. It will be motivational and deeply personal. Blair lost his mother, Joyce Blair, to Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2020. His mother is his muse.

“I wanted to make sure I was in the right space in place to be able to do it,” Blair said. “It would be like a full circle moment because (of) the things that she taught me growing up as she advanced with her disease, it was just like okay, we’ve done this before. We’ve learned how to adapt.”

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Roby
Roby
1 month ago

He is a proof that in the USA anybody can succeed. Legal immigrants coming here without speaking English and become rich and none of them ever was in the unemployment line. I do not want to hear anymore about minorities or racisms.