Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Lois Carol

Lois Carol

VKC Honors Self-Advocate and Artist Lois Curtis

Updated on 4/13/2009 10:54:46 AM.

Source: Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

By: Courtney Taylor

Self-advocate and folk artist Lois Curtis was honored at a reception at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center on Thursday, April 2. Curtis spoke about her art, her current living arrangements, and her involvement as a plaintiff in the Olmstead Decision.

Curtis had spent much of her life as a resident in state-operated institutions. Following denial of her repeated requests to live in the community, she, along with Elaine Wilson (now deceased), initiated a lawsuit against the State of Georgia, and in 1999, their case came before the United States Supreme Court. The Olmstead Decision established a national mandate to free tens of thousands of people with disabilities from institutionalization.

Curtis was very excited to let reception attendees know that she hopes to own her own home very soon. She spoke with joy about spending her days making art and going shopping. Curtis has enjoyed great success as a folk artist. Her art has been exhibited in many galleries in Georgia, where she lives, and across the United States. Samples of her artwork were available for sale at the reception.

When asked about her life in an institution, Curtis remarked, “If it happens again call the police. I made something of myself.”

The reception was hosted by the Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network, which includes the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee, University of Tennessee Boling Center on Developmental Disabilities, and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

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