Rodney Bentley: artist and peer supporter
Listen to this post:
I want to introduce you to Rodney Bentley, a charcoal and graphite artist from New York State who is both deeply spiritual and heavily engaged in community service. I’m thrilled Rodney asked me to share his work here. That’s one of the big goals of this blog. (Hint hint: if you’re an artist with brain injury disabilities, and you want me to show off your work here, please email me!) He’s been written about several times in local and regional papers online. I’m hoping he starts to truly build a national, or larger, presence with his artwork and his story. Especially because not all of the articles really go into some of the darker details of his story.
This article about Rodney, from PostStar.com, does go into those details. Rather than summarize the entire article, I’ll point out what I find most relevant for this blog. Rodney sustained a severe TBI in 2011, and becoming an artist after that was a massive part of restoring his life. Rodney’s one of those survivors who recovered so significantly that his doctors referred to his physical recovery as a miracle. Did you catch that? His physical recovery.
It’s only in recent decades that people are paying attention to the disabilities and experiences that can come from TBI long after physical injuries or signs have improved or even disappeared. I’m so grateful for providers who are jumping on the bandwagon of getting people into inter-disciplinary rehab whenever possible. But some people still get missed, even in the 21st century. Even after a coma.
Without ways to cope with the emotional turmoil, Rodney ended up on a path many people get on: drinking too much and ending up in jail. This is a story line that a lot of people don’t want to hear. But I present it to you because it’s quite simply reality for my peers who don’t–or can’t–access the resources they need.
While incarcerated, Rodney began drawing. And I’ll let you continue the story in the article linked just above because I want you to experience his rich, detailed, and moving charcoal, graphite, pastel work here.
[Image description: Detailed charcoal sketch of Spot Coffee shop with brightly colored bike locked to a lamp post.]
[Image description: Charcoal sketch of a bird hovering over a river by some flowers. The flowers’ centers are bright red, yellow, and blue.]
This really nice write-up shows you a few more of his works of art in an Artist Spotlight in The Observation Post newspaper from 2014.
Bentley serves on the boards of Southern Adirondack Independent Living (SAIL) Center and Steps for Stroke and helps guide other survivors to resources so they don’t have to wait as long as he did. This is the power of peer support that I am so often writing about on this blog and talking about on the podcast and the shows on Brain Injury Radio Network that I get to do. He speaks to art classes and works with Creative Kidz Cafe, a group that helps autistic children express themselves through art. He’s also very interested in working on his memoir. You can find his work in a lovely gallery on FineArtAmerica.com. I encourage you to do so!