Dadu Shin’s Powerful Illustrations Take an Honest Look at Disability

These illustrations have been created for a series of compelling stories about disability in The New York Times – timed to coincide with the Paralympics.

Becoming Disabled


With the 2016 Paralympics currently on in Rio De Janeiro, The New York Times has published a series opinion features written by disabled people.

The essays explore and reveal raw truths of living with a disability and the often unrealised yet scarring societal treatment that ensues.

Brooklyn-based illustrator Dadu Shin was commissioned to visually represent these honest, authentic and moving pieces of opinion. His illustrations narrate the tension between isolation and acceptance using shadowing, empty space and multi-textured layers.

The first essay, Becoming Disabled by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, discusses the complexity of defining disability, and the realisation that many people move in and out of a disability at some point in their lifetime.

Image: Dadu's illustration for Becoming Disabled reflects the notion that disability is everywhere, and becoming aware of it can be a revelation.

Finding Refuge With the Skin I'm In

This is Dadu's illustration for Finding Refuge With the Skin I’m In, written by Anne Kaier, explores what it’s like to have lamellar ichthyosis.

"I can deal with people who stare at my appearance, but I sometimes need a place to hide," Anne writes.


What Disability Means

The third weekly submission, What Disability Means, is a collection of entries written by readers sharing their own stories to the Times as a response to the first feature. This is Dadu's illustration for the piece.

Advertisement. Article continues below

My Paralympics Blues

The fourth, My Paralympic Blues by Emily Rapp Black, explores her feelings on the Paralympics as a way in which "able-bodied people make a virtue of their sudden awareness of disabled athletes".

"Truth is, we’ve been here all along," she writes.

Dadu’s illustration depicts "an athlete, with on prosthetic leg, stands high atop a pedestal. She shields her eyes against a bright light."


Passing My Disability On to My Children

Yesterday's essay by Sheila Black openly explores the pains of a mother passing hypophosphatemia, a type of dwarfism, onto her children.

Dadu’s illustration depicts "among a crowd of people in silhoutette, three, holding hands, are set off by a distinct pattern and smaller size."