Benefit kicks off 50th anniversary for Sister Kenny show

In 1963, fear of polio and its effects was widespread. 26-year-old Margaret Anderson was one of many people who contracted […]

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In 1963, fear of polio and its effects was widespread. 26-year-old Margaret Anderson was one of many people who contracted the dreaded disease. Anderson’s polio resulted in quadriplegia and dependence upon a respirator to sustain her life.

While in an iron lung, Anderson learned to paint in oils while holding the brush in her mouth to create her beautiful paintings. Anderson continued refining her skills while developed a passion for painting. Anderson inspired the establishment of the art show and directed it for many years with support from the former Sister Kenny Auxiliary.

Anderson has passed away but the art show continues and is celebrating 50 years this spring. The Twin Cities community has enjoyed Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s Annual International Art Show by Artists with Disabilities that stemmed from Anderson’s dedication

The show has expanded to include artists with disabilities from around the world. The first art show featured 43 pieces of art. It has grown to 350 entries today, including paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs. The show is juried.

Artists have the pleasure of having others admire their work in a gallery setting. Sister Kenny Institute buys some of the pieces for its permanent collection. Other pieces are sold to collectors and to those who want art for their home or workplace.

artAlive! is an event to launch the anniversary of the International Art Show by Artists with Disabilities. It is at 8 p.m. Friday, April 26, at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, 12600 Nicollet Avenue, Burnsville. Proceeds benefit Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health. It is a tribute to Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s International Art Show by Artists with Disabilities.

Prominent artists will headline artAlive! Kevin Kling, playwright and storyteller, was born with a birth defect and was further disabled by a motorcycle accident. Billy McLaughlin, world-class guitarist and composer, had to restart his career after adapting to a neuromuscular disorder.

Two ticket packages are available for artAlive! The $200 ticket ($125 is tax-deductible) includes a cocktail reception and dinner, art show and auction, performance and an after party. A $40 ticket ($10 is tax-deductible) includes the performance and an after party. For more information, visit

The Sister Kenny Art Show begins Thursday, May 2 at Abbott Northwestern Hospital with a free grand opening from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibit is available for viewing during business hours through May 24.

Information for this article came from Sister Kenny Institute.

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