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Nadina La Spina

Nadina La Spina

2008, charcoal on paper, three separately framed drawings: total installed size, approximately 44" x 108"


Nadina La Spina was born in a tiny village in Italy, where she contracted polio at 5 years old. Her family moved to New York when she was 12, so that Nadina could be treated at the NY Hospital for Special Surgery.


When she was still a small child, Nadina thought that she was the only disabled child in the world. At the Hospital she met other disabled children. Her best friend was a blonde girl exactly her age. Both girls were quite beautiful; visitors would say: “Oh, you’re so pretty! What a shame. What a waste.” Nadina’s friend got the message that she would always be unacceptable, and decided to commit suicide at twenty-two.


In this portrait, the memory-ghost of a still-young girl sits beside Nadina, brushing her hair. The IV bags each contain a floating, empty dress, as homages to other lost girls.


For Nadina’s complete story, read her recent memoir, Such A Pretty Girl, New Village, 2019


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