Book Available for Purchase at:
Suzie Cappa Art Center Studio and Galleries
722 St. Joseph Street, Rapid City, SD 57701
The Chair Is Not Me Art Show:
Dakota State University, Karl E. Mundt Library, First Bank & Trust Gallery, January 17 - February 28, 2020
University of South Dakota, Muenster University Center, 2nd Floor, March - April, 2020
The Chair is Not Me is a collection of poems written, and illustrated by artists of diverse abilities, to inspire people to think about, learn from, and connect to people who are diversely abled. JJ realized the need to speak and teach about disabilities following an experience at a grocery store in the 1980s. A little boy shopping with his mother saw JJ and asked, “How come that man can’t walk?” When his mother replied, “Be quiet. Don’t bother him,” JJ approached them and offered to explain his disability. He reminded the mother, “If they don’t ask, they won’t learn.” He wanted the child to think it was okay to talk to someone with a disability. He also wants families that have children with disabilities to encourage children to find their voices, love themselves, and speak up and out about their disabilities.
Eleven of the poems are accompanied by mixed-media illustrations and are currently touring the state of South Dakota to advocate for disabilities and cultural awareness.
The book, and art show, have been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and the Perfect Hanging Gallery. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this book, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Author James Janis, or as he is known by his friends, JJ, grew up between the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Rapid City in South Dakota. Born with cerebral palsy complicated with several other conditions, he was only expected to live for 12 hours, but 60 years later he is still here! Previously his work was published in a collection of poems: Ashes and Chuckles in 1981. Several of his poems have been featured in world premier productions by Flutter Productions. Writing is one of the things that sets JJ free from his disabilities and allows him to escape. In addition to writing, he has always been interested in the office of the President of the United States because his grandmother, Ellen Janis, worked on JFK’s campaign to feed people. Following in her footsteps, he recently became one of the newest members of the A-Team Black Hills, which advocates for the rights of the disabled. In his spare time he leads an Elvis fan club. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook under JJ, James Janis, Writer.