Artist with cerebral palsy creates and inspires by using an adaptive device for her paintbrush

Updated: February 10, 2020 06:19 PM

Kari Wagner, age 43, is not able to speak.

But as we discovered, she is able to express herself in a most beautiful way.


The Golden Valley artist was born with cerebral palsy. She is non-verbal and isn't able to grip a paintbrush in the traditional way. 

But that hasn't stopped her.

For years she's been able to paint with the help of an adaptive device that fits over her head, and it's become the link to what's inside.

"We wanted to have Kari have a way to express herself, and we knew early it was going to come through colors," Nancy Wagner, Kari's mother, said.

Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare has a "Therapeutic Recreation" specialty to help patients like Kari discover and pursue their passions.

"We help people identify what they are interested in, what they may be passionate about and how they do this on a daily basis," said Carrie Ingish with Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.

And in Kari's case, art has been therapeutic.

"She could be very negative about her life, but she just isn't," Kari's mom said. "We are very, very proud."

Kari's art has been featured in buildings all over the metro like the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis and Landmark Center in St. Paul.

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Ellen Galles

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