An illustrated portrait of Alice Wong and Ashanti Fortson by Ashanti with a purple, pink, mauve, and blue color palette. Wong is an Asian American woman wearing a dark blue jacket and a pink-and-lavender chevron-patterned scarf, as well as a mask over her nose with a tube for her Bi-Pap machine. Fortson is an Afro-Mexican person wearing light yellow star earrings, large and round pink glasses, and a dark blue knit shawl with accents in bright pink. Clouds swirl in front of the figures, and stars are visible in the night sky behind them. Shooting stars with bright pink trails are scattered throughout the portrait. Near the bottom of the image, embellished text reads “Alice and Ashanti,” and the text “#CommunityAsHome” is underneath.
In 2020 artist Ashanti Fortson and Alice Wong collaborated in a project called
Community As Home featuring a series digital portraits centered on the joy, culture, and love of disabled people and how we create communities and homes for one another. We asked participants a number of questions:
What is the power of finding community?
Who are your communities and cultural homes?
How do you find and sustain community?
What does it mean to belong as a disabled person in society?
How do you see yourself in relation to the world around you?
What is the beauty and joy of finding and being with ‘your people’?
Below are 14 portraits by Ashanti Fortson. For more about Ashanti’s beautiful work:
Note on attribution: these images are free for anyone to share and use but
you must credit Ashanti Fortson as the artist and whenever possible link back to this page.
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson of an abstracted plant growing and weaving through the page. The main flower is large and circular, with white-and-pin pinwheel stripes and swirly detailing throughout. The stem of the plant is very flowy and swirly in its shape, taking an ornamental approach. Each of the plant’s leaves is an illustrated vignette contained in a tulip shape. The first vignette is of two feminine-presenting people close together, with gentle expressions, focused on their faces. One has dark skin and dark curly hair, while the other has light brown skin and is wearing hijab. The second vignette is of three hands reaching out towards each other tenderly. The hands are each different shades of brown. The third vignette is a silhouetted illustration of a group of three people holding hands, viewed from behind. Two of the people are standing, and the third person uses a wheelchair. The color palette throughout the overall illustration is soft and gentle, mainly using pinks, purples, and browns. Light-colored sparkles fill the white space around the plant and vignettes. To the side of the main flower, hand-lettered text reads, “Finding dispersed community has made all the difference in the journey of me attempting to remake meaning, embrace fun and find hope as an adult.” At the bottom of the illustration, the name “Pavi” is written in gently swooping letters.
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson of a distant lighthouse directing its beam toward the viewer and illuminating a short-haired figure sitting alone in a small canoe. We are looking at the figure from behind. They are gripping the sides of the boat and eagerly looking towards the lighthouse and shoreline. The waters around them are relatively calm and the parts of the image that are not being illuminated by the lighthouse are a dark, deep purple and blue. Above the horizon line of the ocean, the sky is dark and cloudy, and going up the image, the clouds transition to a view of rolling ocean waves. In these stormy waves, the same figure is in their canoe to the left of the image, but they look tiny against the rest of the ocean. Between the visual transition of the clouds to the waves, there is a large blue gray cloud shape that serves as a text bubble. Inside the cloud shape it reads: “When I found the autistic community, it was like finally coming home after 23 long years at sea. Often you don’t realize how lonely and frightened you’ve been the whole time, until you find your people. -CADENCE”
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson of abstracted and colorful patterns that hearken to Islamic geometric tilework, which radiate from the center of the image in an overlapping pattern of triangles, stars, teardrops, and 4-and-5-sided polygons. Many of the tile panels have intricate linework inside of them, depicting more floral or geometric patterning. The tiles are colored with varying shades of yellow, blue, and orange. At the center of the pattern is a starburst, and seven outstretched arms reach from the bottom of the starburst and up toward the center of it, where the text is laid. The seven arms each belong to different people of varying skin tones ranging from light to deep brown, and the hands have varying features and accessories on them, such as rings, bracelets, nail polish, finger splints, and a wristwatch. The text at the center of the image, which all the arms are reaching toward and up lifting, reads: “The beauty of my community is being able to lift up the voices of others like me, and to be a voice for others like me, because for so long, I thought I was the only disabled Muslim around.” Towards the bottom of the illustration, the name “Iman” is written in capital letters.
A portrait illustration by Ashanti Fortson of Rebel, a light skin, agender, multiracial person with graying black hair. Rebel has a round face and brown eyes, and they are gently smiling and looking toward the viewer. They are wearing glasses with thick, dark frames, and a soft blue abstract-patterned scarf. Sprigs of small pink-and-purple flowers frame their face on one side. Low-contrast line drawings of more flowers and leaves peek out from behind Rebel’s head. A sprig of leaves frames the other side of their face, and a decorated, ivory-colored plaque sits on top of the leaves. The plaque contains the name “Rebel” in capital letters.
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson from the point-of-view of a person using a wheelchair, looking down towards their legs and feet. The person is wearing a navy-blue skirt and shiny black shoes. The illustration includes a frame of branches, leaves, and light blue flowers that weave behind and in front of the person and their wheelchair. The flowers frame a hand-lettered quote near the top of the image, which reads: “When I’m very sick, my community carries me. It’s a beautiful and tender thing to be cared for so intimately.” At the bottom of the illustration, a rectangular yellow plaque made of branches contains the name “Rebel” in capital letters.
A portrait illustration by Ashanti Fortson of Jordan, a light-skinned queer, disabled Chicana with wavy, shoulder-length dark hair. She has a somewhat rounded face and is smiling gently while looking towards the viewer. She has dark eyes, strong eyebrows, and bright aviator-style eyeglasses. Jordan is wearing a long, dark, textured shirt with a slight v-neck, as well as gold hoop earrings and delicate gold necklaces. Behind her is a light yellow grid sitting on top of the white image background. Abstracted, gold-colored lines and connected circles fan out from behind her as well. Towards the bottom of the image, a gold-colored rectangular line sits on top of her shirt, framing the name “Jordan” in capital letters.
A portrait illustration by Ashanti Fortson of Meredith, a light-skinned person with windswept, shoulder-length straight gray hair. Meredith is smiling widely and holding a calico-colored cat with green eyes. Meredith has blue-gray eyes and is wearing a knitted blue turtleneck sweater. Behind Meredith and the cat, a subtle yellow chevron pattern sits on the white image background. At the bottom of the illustration, yellow paw-prints frame the person’s arm to the left. A yellow, oval-shaped plaque with pointed-scallop edging contains the name “Meredith” in capital letters.
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson of two black-and-white-colored rabbits that are relaxing together. One has ears that stand upright, while the other has flopped ears. The illustration of the rabbits is framed by an illustrated border, composed of different stylized plants and decorative linework. There are dense-looking, purple flowers along the sides of the border, as well as yellow dandelions. At the top of the image, the border incorporates an orange carrot with its leaves still attached. Above the rabbits, a handwritten quote reads, “They provide unconditional love and make me feel at home.” At the bottom of the image, a rectangular, green plaque contains the name “Amethyst” in pastel green capital letters.
Lydia and Shain
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson of two people sitting side-by-side affectionately on a couch and smiling together. Lydia, the person on our left, has light brown skin, short and partially-buzzed dark hair, dark eyes, and round features. They’re wearing glasses with dark, thin frames. Shain, the person on our right, has very light skin, short blonde hair, blue-gray eyes, and rounded-but-square features. They’re also wearing glasses with dark, thin frames. Both people are wearing suits, and both have painted blue nails and wedding rings. Lydia wears a dark blue suit with a blue button-up shirt and a paisley-patterned tie. Shain wears a dark blue-gray suit with a white button-up shirt and a gray striped tie. The environment shows their ivory-colored couch, floral-patterned couch cushions, and a large arch-shaped bookcase behind them. Books fill the shelves, and a multicolored, long-haired cat sits in one of the shelf nooks too. At the bottom of the illustration, the names “Lydia” and “Shain” are written in slightly cursive handwriting. Their names are separated by a small linework illustration of a cat’s face.
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson of Jas, a brown-skinned Black and East Asian person standing in the breeze, cropped around the mid-thigh. Jas is looking to the right, in the direction of the breeze, and has a calm, contemplative expression. Strong rim lighting is cast along the right side of their face and shirt. They have long, very curly hair, which is blowing gently in the breeze. They are wearing a loose, light blue, patterned shirt tied in the middle, a dark belt, dark pants, and a brown purse on their shoulder. Around them, soft green swirls of wind sit on a lighter green, painted backdrop, which swirls into the white background of the image. Near the top-right, a hand-drawn rectangular speech bubble, pointing to Jas’ face and decorated with stars, contains a hand-lettered quote: “The joy is in celebration without being measured against the accoutrements of success; it’s recognizing ourselves and one another as fully realized, potentialized human beings with voices, rather than as recipients of silence.” At the bottom of the image, the name “Jas” is written.
A portrait illustration by Ashanti Fortson of Michael, a light-skinned person smiling happily at the viewer. Michael has very short brown hair, dark eyes, and rounded features accentuated by light blue highlights. They’re wearing a dark hoodie, and a blue shirt peeks out at the V of the hoodie. The background is a similar blue, and a slightly lighter-blue circuitry motif is visible in the background. The circuitry motif is repeated in front of Michael, somewhat framing them in the illustration. The circuitry leads down to a nameplate outlined in the same light blue. The nameplate is rectangular and designed like a video game console controller: on the left side, there’s a D-pad, and on the right side, there are four buttons arranged in a diamond shape. In the middle, the name “Michael” is written in light blue capital letters.
A portrait illustration by Ashanti Fortson of Elliot, a smiling adult holding a lulav made of three of the four species of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (willow, palm branch, and myrtle), as well as a happy-looking child poking at the lulav frond. Elliot is a fat, non-binary, white, Ashkenazi Jew with light skin, dark brown hair, round features, and stubble along their chin. Elliot is wearing a cool green shirt and a muted red jacket. The child has light skin, medium-brown hair, and is around two years old. The child is wearing a bright green shirt and a poofy royal blue jacket. Around and behind the two figures, abstracted yellow-orange shapes swirl outwards in a celebratory way. The image background is white. At the bottom of the illustration, the name “Elliot” is written in white letters on top of a rainbow Pride flag.
Hannah Morphy-Walsh, CB Mako, Pauline Vetuna, and Gemma Mahadeo
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson of a group of four people standing and sitting next to each other. Their names are written at the bottom of the illustration, below each of them from left to right: Hannah Morphy-Walsh, CB Mako, Pauline Vetuna, and Gemma Mahadeo. Hannah has light skin and semi-long dark brown hair, and is standing and smiling bashfully with their arms folded in front of them. Hannah is wearing a periwinkle button-up shirt on top of a dark camisole, mint-colored shorts, and a couple of bandaids on their legs. CB has light brown skin and short dyed-orange hair, and is standing and smiling broadly at the camera. They’re wearing a smiley-face necklace, black pants, and a black T-shirt with white text that reads, “The Future Is Accessible” in capital letters. Pauline has dark brown skin and very curly black hair, and is sitting in their wheelchair and smiling at the camera. They’re wearing a dark blue knit turtleneck, gray track pants with white and orange stripes, and a large gray fanny pack with a pair of gloves attached. They have their arms folded on top of their bum bag. Gemma has light brown skin and long, wavy dark brown hair. Gemma is standing with their arms crossed, and is smiling broadly at the camera. They’re wearing a slightly flowy, pastel blue dress, a muted green ruched jacket with pink accents, and a necklace that depicts a low-battery symbol. Around and between the four figures, multicolored cartoon sparkles, leaves, and flowers fill the space. At the top of the illustration, a hand-written quote reads, “If home is where our disabilities are not stigmatized, where ableism is not tolerated, where access and allyship is love, and where all of our identities can find inclusion and rest–– then, this community truly is home.”
Pauline Vetuna and Ruby Allegra
An illustration of Pauline Vetuna and Ruby Allegra having coffee together and smiling at each other. Pauline has dark brown skin and very curly black hair, and is wearing a turquoise-colored button-up shirt on top of a light blue sweater, as well as an olive-green bum bag. Pauline holds a spoon above their cup of coffee. Ruby is a white person with fair skin, slightly curly dyed-pink hair, freckles on their face, and a septum piercing. Ruby is wearing thick clear-framed glasses, dark purple pants, a purple long-sleeve shirt with white stripes, and a black T-shirt with collaged imagery and slogans from anti-racism and anti-imperialism protests. They’re holding their coffee mug with both hands, as if raising it to take a sip. They’re buckled into their mobility device, and their elbow rests on the armrest. The headrest and control-stick of their mobility device are also visible. On the table in front of Ruby, there’s a small dish with a spoon inside, and Ruby’s sketchbook and pen. Above and behind the two figures, different sheets of paper sit on the white background. Four sheets have text and drawings on them. The drawings across the sheets are sparkles, a watering can and growing plants, houses, and the sun and clouds in the sky. The text on the sheets reads, “What is also beautiful and exciting is the opportunity to co-create together the kind of spaces we want to see but have been denied in the world as it currently is.” At the bottom of the illustration, a large pencil draws a line from the edge of the table. Above it are the names “Pauline Vetuna” and “Ruby Allegra,” separated by a sparkle.
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