The 21st Show

IL Artist Gives Whole Picture of Pandemic


From the beginning of her life, Riva Lehrer has been reading faces. Born with spinal bifida, she spent her childhood in hospitals, enduring countless surgeries. And there, surrounded by doctors and nurses who were in charge of decisions about her own body, she learned to read the truth in their faces to brace for whatever was next. She became a teacher, a writer, and most notably an acclaimed painter. Her work focuses on portraits of those whose bodies, sexuality, and gender have been stigmatized by society, challenging what, and who is seen as “normal.” But with bodies and faces being an essential aspect of her work, the pandemic, social distancing, and mask-wearing has presented its challenges for her as both a disabled person, and an artist.

Lehrer joined to to speak more about her work and her recent Op-Ed published in the New York Times, "The Virus Has Stolen Your Face From Me” and her recent memoir called “Golem Girl” which made it on Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020 list. 


Riva Lehrer, Chicago based visual artist and writer


Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi

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