Paul D. Wilbur Focuses on the Importance of Art and Accessibility

Paul Wilbur
Paul Wilbur

Photo by LaJuana Taylor

By Lydia Simon, Wild Goose Creative Gallery and Operations Manager

In preparation for the Art Expressions Ohio exhibition in partnership with VSA Ohio on April 6, 6-9 p.m. at Wild Goose Creative, we sat down with photographer Paul D. Wilbur to discuss his artistic inspiration, experience as an artist working with disability and the importance of art and accessibility.

Lydia: Can you give me a little bit of your background?
Paul: I studied fine arts and photography at Ohio University, and got a certificate in art education. After graduating, I gave up photography for 25 years, and I pursued a career with Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Meanwhile, through some friendships, I came into contact with an employee at VSA Ohio, an organization whose mission is to make the arts and arts education more accessible and inclusive for people with any disability. He liked my photography and said I should submit something. I ended up getting Best in Show. The VSA Ohio exhibition really got me moving and prompted me to apply for more and more shows across the city. Throughout the years I wasn’t making art, I was still photographing in my mind. I’m disabled while raising grandkids and a great-grandson, with grants from VSA Ohio and Greater Columbus Arts Council, I am able to keep going.

Lydia: What inspires your work most heavily?
Paul: Because of my disability, my mood heavily affects my work. There’s a lot of death and dying of Franklin County building and architecture. I like to capture that. If people aren’t affected by my work, I feel that I’ve failed. I want people to think when they look at my work.

Lydia: What’s the best thing about the Columbus arts scene right now?
Paul: The fact that Columbus is taking such a positive role in the arts. Organizations such as VSA Ohio, the Ohio Arts Council and Greater Columbus Arts Council have been such a positive influence for me and given me so much help and resources over the years.

Lydia: What has been your experience working with a disability?
Paul: One of the biggest challenges face is that I would like to get to the next level with my art making, but I don’t quite know how to get there. However, I feel Columbus is a great place to be for artists working with disabilities. With organizations like VSA Ohio and FRESH AIR Gallery, Columbus seems to be much more advanced than other cities in terms of accessibility.

You can view Paul’s work and more at Wild Goose Creative on Apr. 6 from 6-9 p.m. at VSA Ohio’s Art Expressions Ohio exhibit. Accessible Expressions Ohio (AEO) may be the most diverse art show you see this year. AEO is an adjudicated, statewide exhibition and tour of visual art for artists of all ages, with disabilities. Seventy pieces of art were selected from an annual call for entries. The exhibit travels in groups to accessible sites from April through December to raise awareness.

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