DAVID MCCAULEY is the founder of Rise Up Gallery as well as one of the participating artists. In the summer of 2008, David sustained a spinal cord injury at the C6 vertebrae, resulting in paralysis from the chest down and limiting the use of his hands. An avid photographer, board rider, and traveler, David’s portfolio is a wide ranging collection of unique angles and symmetry found in his black and white urban streetscapes, colorfully majestic landscapes and documentary photography. David’s craft also transcends into other artworks, where he utilizes recycled skateboards to create mosaics that manifest into short powerful words. David is influenced by cityscapes, board riding (surf/skate/snow), water, musical elements, and peaceful mornings. Exploring new sustainable ways to adaptively create art, David is fond of utilizing stencils, recycled materials, oil/acrylic on canvas, and mixed media.
KASEY TARARUJ was fourteen years old in 2000, when an unexpected and unpredictable AVM on her spinal cord took away the use of her legs. Art and creating has been Kasey’s biggest passion for her entire life, but it wasn’t until her situation arose that she began to use art on a different level than many artists. As the most significant form of venting and dealing with life as a paraplegic, drawing and painting is Kasey’s sanity, especially during unbearable moments. Initially, she used her artwork to illustrate the thoughts and feelings she could not otherwise express, but as life slowly became easier, her subject matter began to mature and expand. Having always been drawn to and heavily inspired by strange and surreal artwork, much of Kasey’s artwork could be described as bizarre with a touch of darkness, while other of her work focuses on beauty or light-hearted nonsense. Kasey’s most popular series are her One-Eyed Girls (paintings and drawings of distorted, but sexy female figures) and Kaotic Kritters (paintings and sculptures of cartoony characters with unique personalities), but she never limits herself as an artist or even as a person, constantly pursuing new projects and experiences.
JAY LIESENER is a member of the Rise Up artist community. When Jay was 17, in 1989, he was doing back flips on a friend’s trampoline, misjudged his landing and broke his neck at C4/5 vertebrae. It was just before his senior year of high school and he thought his opportunity to pursue a career in the arts was over. Following the initial hospital stay and rehab, Jay regrouped, found a new career path that he was passionate about, went to college and continued on with life. But, that need for creative release was always there, lurking in the periphery. In 2003, Jay had a computer controlled muscle stimulator implanted in his left hand and arm. This device gave him back some use of his left hand and a chance to try drawing again. He bought some pencils and a drawing pad, and although it was frustrating at first, there was slow progress. Jay was creating again, expressing ideas and emotions that were impossible to share through words. In 2005, a friend introduced Jay to a Wacom tablet. It was amazing! One of those life changing moments. Suddenly, he could work in any medium he wanted, zoom in to work on details, then zoom out to create long sweeping arcs, and work in layers. Jay was hooked and his pencils have been collecting dust ever since. The process is intensive and there are over 100 hours in each of Jay’s drawings and paintings. For Jay, art is therapy, a place where he can lose himself in a meditative place.
ISABELL VILLACIS was born October 3rd, 1979, weighing only one pound and was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy. Thanks to her mother, Ana Villacis, her caretaker, she has overcome many obstacles and since the age of 16 her interests have inclined towards art. After graduation from Lakeview School (Edison, NJ) at age 21, Isabell participated in a non-profit program that facilitated individual artistic expressions and encouraged creative abilities. In a profound way, this talented young woman shares with us her experience with art and how she has found freedom and the ability to express her feelings, emotions and thoughts through the creation of work. Isabell has participated in many art shows including: The Department of Human Services (Trenton, NJ), The Princeton University Art Museum (Princeton, NJ), Kessler Rehabilitation Institute (Livingston, NJ), and in Paris, France. Among her multiple talents and gifts is her kind heart. In 2007 Isabell was able to fulfill one of her dreams, which was to visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This elegant tower has been one of her precious muses and been the inspiration for many of her paintings. With no use of her legs and minimal use of her hands, Isabell is inspiring to all who have the fortune to meet her. Isabell is a member of Fundacion Manos A La Ayuda, Inc. Hands Help Hands and has been the inspiration for their scholarship fund called the “The Picasso Dream” which provides funds each year to students graduating from high school with physical or learning disabilities, who want to, like Isabell, pursue their dream in the art field.