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Your Life, Your Health: Disability does not stop this artist

Updated: Monday, November 11 2013, 08:48 PM EST
A childhood accident put him in a wheelchair for life, but Albany’s David Senecal isn’t letting his disability get in the way of his passion for painting. Paralyzed from the neck down and with little mobility in his wrists, David paints beautiful landscapes with a brush between his teeth.
“One day I just decided to put the brush in my mouth because I had better control. And that’s how I’ve been doing it ever since.” He says. “People are surprised. I guess they never thought about it.”
When David was 13-years-old he fell while diving into an above-ground pool, striking his head on the bottom.
“I was instantly paralyzed, I felt like an electric jolt went through my body. The next thing I know I’m waking up in the ambulance.”
Interested in art even before the accident, David now paints about 20 pieces a year from an art studio in his Albany apartment that he shares with his wife. He’s a member of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, based in Switzerland. Through this group many of David’s works are circulated worldwide on Christmas cards and calendars.
In the beginning, he used a wrist brace to complete his work. When those results were failing, he tried using a brush in his mouth (1972) and has been doing it ever since.
‘I always thought of art as a hobby.” David says. “Then after Evelyn and I got married in 1980, I just started painting a lot.”
This year David was the only local artist to have his work chosen as part of the Viewpoint Gallery at the Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital in Schenectady. The collection is all done by artists with disabilities.
CEO of Sunnyview Chip Eisenman says David’s submission was 1 of 600 submitted worldwide. He says the gallery provides inspiration to both patients, staff and the public.
“We treat a lot of patients with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or who have had strokes. And it is inspirational for them, our patients and our staff, to see what these people living with disabilities can do.”
If you’d like to see David’s piece at the exhibit and view the other works, it is open to the public during normal business hours at the Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital, 1270 Belmont Avenue in Schenectady. Prior to this, the works were featured at Proctor’s. Sunnyview’s exhibit runs through December 2nd. Your Life, Your Health: Disability does not stop this artist

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