As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, we had the pleasure of interviewing artist Michelle Baharier.
Michelle Baharier is a critically acclaimed multimedia & Interdisciplinary Fine Artist based in London, UK. A recipient of the coveted Jullian Sullivan Award for Achievement in Fine Art Media from the Slade School of Fine Art, she exhibits internationally across the UK, USA, Europe, and the Middle East.
Known for founding CoolTan Arts, an arts and mental health charity, in her artwork Baharier invites the viewer to gaze at brilliantly coloured faces, encouraging reflection on their own emotional state. Her oeuvre addresses the many barriers that she and others face due to disability, discrimination and prejudice.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Iwas born disabled, I have dyslexia and various other learning differences, I was diagnosed with it age nine, as a teacher and my parents were concerned that I could not read. I also have mental health conditions such as clinical depression and Complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill?
I am comfortable sharing my story, because others with my condition need to know that dyslexia and mental health conditions, need not be imposed upon by others’ ignorance creating stigma.
What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?
I have never made a mental shift about my disability as I have always been ambitions and wanted to succeed.
Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness?
I wanted to go to Art school so I did, I have a degree and PG DIP from Slade School of Fine Art. I am currently having a solo show at the Foundry, London, UK, SE11 5RR.
I also set up and run an Arts and mental health charity from scratch, employing 24 people helping 3000 people a year and turning over £500k a year. Whilst I was CEO we won 27 awards. One award was a year at the School of Social Entrepreneurs, as well as a month’s learning journey travelling around India visiting other social enterprises.
What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?
A disability is not a limitation, you need to be true to yourself, do what you love and also take the oppressed people with you, to challenge the prejudices that others have about you.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My achievement has been helped by many people who have encouraged me to be myself and follow my dreams without limitations. To name one would be wrong, as many teachers and family members have all believed in and supported me, without them I could not be who I am.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I believe that I have brought a little light into this world using creativity as part of activism that turns the assumptions that many people have of disability upside down.
Read the rest here: https://medium.com/authority-magazine/unstoppable-how-michelle-baharier-has-redefined-success-while-navigating-society-with-dyslexia-e33a3bc216d4