Disabled artists collaborate on billboard to bring attention to sexual assault

What intrigues you most? My burns? My disability? Or my dominance?

Those words are emblazoned on a billboard in East Atlanta that shows disabled artist Megan Mosholder in black fishnet hose, a leather collar and low-cut black top. Look closely at the dimly lit image and you can see her cane and the prosthesis on her left leg.

The billboard (at 533 Flat Shoals Avenue SE through March 19) is the brainchild of Jessica Elaine Blinkhorn, an Atlanta-based artist, activist and educator who uses a wheelchair. She hopes it will bring attention to the fact that approximately 40 percent of women with disabilities have been sexually or physically abused. Blinkhorn herself was sexually assaulted in May 2022 and the experience motivated her to research sexual assault in the disabled community.

Mosholder chose “punk goth” clothing for the photo shoot. (Photo on poster by Clifton-Strawn)

“I thought ‘why is no one talking about this?’” she writes in a press release. “I truly believe that disability and sexuality should be talked about more openly and in an inclusive way.” Her findings galvanized her to found SPANKBOX, a photo-installation project featuring disabled artists in sexualized poses.

This is the first in what Blinkhorn hopes will be a series of billboards, each featuring a different artist. SaveArtSpace, an organization that creates urban gallery experiences designed to foster social change, donated the funds for this billboard “but any billboards to follow will be funded by the community,” Blinkhorn says.

Her goal in each case is to create a “1970s porn peep show style poster that essentially echoes the taboo nature of sexuality in general.” She wants the billboards to be seen throughout the country, but given what she describes as the rampant “racism, ableism, xenophobia and homophobia” in the South, her focus is currently on the Southern states.

Mosholder has never been sexually abused but understands the importance of the campaign. She had a car accident in 2018 in which her vehicle caught fire and she sustained burns on more than 67 percent of her body. In spite of more than 30 surgeries, she experiences almost constant pain and frequently uses a wheelchair.

For the photo shoot, she chose the type of clothes she wore in high school. “I was a punk rock goth in the ’90s,” she says. The photographer, David Clifton-Strawn, made her feel so comfortable and attractive that she was willing to expose her prosthetic leg “and some of my banged-up body.” Mosholder is not a dominatrix, as the billboard image suggests, and says the photo portrays her personality, not her sexuality. “I’ve had people tell me I am aggressive,” she says, “and assertion in this society can come off as an act of aggression.”

Her disability has not prevented her from making art, although she needs more help than before the accident. It is known for its large installations, each created with white twine that is painted and lit. Her most recent project, a commission from Microsoft, is 41 feet tall and was completed in a month with the help of 12 assistants.

She considers the billboard a form of performance art but up to now has never been identified as a performance artist. In fact, she’s been very critical of the genre. That’s about to change. She is developing a performance that will open at Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery on April 7. During the show, she will be tied up in shibari, a type of Japanese bondage, using the same twine she uses in her art installations.

“It will express how I feel about my situation, tied down and locked in,” she says.

Meanwhile, Blinkhorn is raising funds for the next billboard, which she hopes will be in Orlando, Florida. It will feature Ayden, a transgender artist and content creator with cerebral palsy.


Gillian Anne Renault has been an ArtsATL contributor since 2012 and Senior Editor for Art+Design and Dance since 2021. She has covered dance for the Los Angeles Daily News, Herald Examiner and ballet news, and on radio stations such as KCRW, the NPR affiliate in Santa Monica, California. Many years ago, she was awarded an NEA Fellowship to attend American Dance Festival’s Dance Criticism program.

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