Disability Issues

Micro-sculptor battled learning disabilities

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You might be familiar with micro-sculptor Willard Wigan's amazing miniature art.

But not many know that Wigan has a disability, and it forced him to escape to a microscopic fantasy world in order to survive.

Although Wigan dealt with severe learning disabilities his entire life, his artwork enabled him to overcome academic challenges.

'Art in the Eye of a Needle: The Hollywood Collection" is the theme of British Wigan's new collection. It is currently being shown at River North's Nicole Gallery.

"What I did, I decided to do a collection of Hollywood celebrities and, you know, things that people can relate to that reminds them of Hollywood," Wigan said.

Creating artwork in the eye of a needle on the head of a pin or the tip of a pencil, Wigan's work is barely visible with the naked eye.

While growing up in Birmingham, England, Wigan was diagnosed with learning disabilities. He struggled in school.

"Because when you are age five and somebody tells you are illiterate time and time again, you begin to believe it. And she said one thing to me at school, she said the reason why the word failure was written in the English dictionary was because of me," Wigan said.

But he found solace in creating art.

"What I did, how I did it, I took a piece of my dad's razor blade and; I took a little splinters of wood. And I started to slice these splinters of wood and construct them into small houses," he said. "And I put them on a piece of hard board, which is like cardboard paper. And I put all the little houses around.

"At 12, I got a microscope, which was a chemistry set microscope. Then I started experimenting underneath the microscope. I experimented with my breathing, I experimented with my tools. I started making very fine tools. I used to sharpen my mother's needles on an oil stone," Wigan said.

Wigan has been practicing this art for 48 years, showing others what people with disabilities can do.

"This is compensation. This is me defending myself after I was told I was illiterate. The teacher telling me I can't read, I am no good. I am a failure, I am nothing. So I'm gonna show her and the world how big nothing can become because nothing is what we all came from," Wigan said.

Wigan's "Art in the Eye of a Needle: The Hollywood Collection" will be at Nicole Gallery until May 22. Admission for the exhibit is $5.

http://nicolegallery.com/

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