Located inside the worcester art museum

Designed as a partnership between Worcester Art Museum, Seven Hills Foundation, and Open Door Arts,
ODG@WAM is a working studio and gallery that exhibits and celebrates the work of aspiring, emerging and established artists with disabilities, acting as a catalyst for community convening and conversation with the museum and beyond.


Bethany Noël: "Aphasia" 

On view: November 20th, 2023-February 9, 2024

Opening Reception: December 14th, 11:00-1:00 pm 

About "Aphasia" 

Aphasia is the short term inability to remember words, regardless of its complexity. It’s a common experience for many migraineurs and frequently indicates the beginning of a new attack. I have always felt that my primary language is visual and everything else is a translation. This show is a medley of works across ten years and a variety of series, missing some of the words in between. 

Artist Statement 

I create emotional, subtly surreal large-scale acrylic paintings about my chronic migraine disease’s neurological symptoms as I experience them in nature – think Alice-in-Wonderland meets Narnia. 

I developed my own adapted divisionism painting technique to represent what my neurological migraine optical distortion looks like and feels like. I use the physical properties of paint (opacity, gloss) to create the illusion of space and depth. The darkness in my black gessoed paintings is the canvas being revealed, subverting the viewers' assumptions of primary and secondary objects.

I experience a myriad of different neurological symptoms that I include in my painted worlds, including macroscopia, microscopia, and ocular aura. Daily, I see unsettling but mesmerizing visual artifacts that either partially obscure my view or are a filter, like looking at the world via a fairyland of hazy hot asphalt.

What is painful and disorienting with my disease gives me a key to share the otherworldly beauty of the natural world next to us. Finding beauty in the brush and bramble and representing how I truly experience the world both give me strength to fight the seditious secondary battle any chronically ill person knows – depression. My artwork is an ode to joy despite pain and revealing the beauty of the mundane.


Acrylic painting with chalk pastel, pencil, on black gessoed canvas representing dusk light flickering through marsh trees and foliage
Acrylic painting on black gessoed canvas representing a morning dawn in the woods
"Northern Kingdom"
Acrylic painting on black gessoed canvas representing ocular migraine aura
"Morning Aura"
Acrylic painting with chalk pastel, on white gessoed canvas representing the bark of a tree
"Barking Up"

About the Open Door Gallery @WAM

Designed as both a working studio and gallery, Open Door Gallery @ Worcester Art Museum is a one-of-a-kind collaboration that supports the creation of new works and the sharing of artwork with the Greater Worcester arts community and beyond!

As a partnership between Open Door Arts, Seven Hills Foundation, and the Worcester Art Museum, Open Door Gallery @ Worcester Art Museum seeks to expand opportunities for meaningful experiences and connections through the arts for people of all abilities.

Painting with the top half horizontally in shades of oranges and browns, reminiscent of a sunset, and a turquoise lower half. Painted on a pegboard.
"Red Sky in Morning" by Jon Sarkin


The Open Door Gallery @ WAM is located in the Higgins Education Wing of the Worcester Art Museum, at:
55 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609

The gallery is open during regular museum hours,
Wednesday – Sunday: 10 am-4 pm
Third Thursday of every month: 10 am-8 pm


The Open Door Gallery @ WAM is located in the Higgins Education Wing of the Worcester Art Museum. The gallery can be accessed through the Lancaster Street entrance of WAM (currently under renovations) or through the Tuckerman Street entrance.

The gallery is at the end of the first floor of the Higgins Wing. It can also be accessed directly through the Lancaster courtyard, where there is a ramp and switch-operated double doors.

ASL interpreters can be requested for events and exhibit openings. We care about your experience, so please contact for access-related questions.

We are proud to participate in the Card to Culture program, a collaboration between Mass Cultural Council and the Department of Transitional AssistanceMassachusetts Health Connector, and WIC Nutrition Program, by broadening accessibility to cultural programming.

Admissions to our Open Door Galleries and related events is free. EBT, WIC, and ConnectorCare cardholders will receive free admission to any ticketed events. See the full list of participating organizations offering EBTWIC, and ConnectorCare discounts.