Portrait artist Riva Lehrer’s groundbreaking work on identity and disability has been exhibited at such prestigious venues as the United Nations, National Women’s Art Museum and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. The recipient of numerous grants and awards, Lehrer has been an invited lecturer throughout the United States and in Europe, and was the subject of the documentary Self-Preservation: The Art of Riva Lehrer. She is a professor of anatomy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lehrer has Spina Bifida, a congenital disorder where part of the spinal cord is exposed through an unfused section of the backbone.
Ms. Fit chatted with Lehrer over Thai food in her cozy Chicago apartment. What follows are excerpts from that conversation and, because she’s really smart, we let her do most of the talking.