A DISABLED Bendigo woman has used art to tell the story of her told of her ongoing struggle for equal access around Bendigo.
Michelle Loschiavo, a soft-spoken 23-year-old, has needed a wheelchair all her life and feels humiliated every day, whether it's going out for a coffee or for a social event.
Ms Loschiavo said she often felt embarrassed and hated drawing extra attention to herself because of her disability, but said she was angry that disabled people still faced the same access problems they faced years ago.
Ms Loschiavo has joined 17 other female artists to portray the best and worst things about being a woman in Bendigo, and hopes her message will hit home with local residents.
Her self-portrait illustrates a true experience she had in Bendigo, when she was faced with a flight of stairs and no lift to reach the restrooms for the disabled.
The irony of the situation was that only regular restrooms were on the ground floor.
"Sometimes one small step in a doorway can be as much of a barrier as three flights of stairs," Ms Loschiavo said.
"It's not just occasionally that it happens, I see it all the time.
"A lot of places have ramps for wheelchair access, but there's a step to get onto the ramp."
Ms Loschiavo's electric wheelchair can not be manoeuvered as easily as a manual chair, and a step, even only centimetres off the ground, is unachievable, especially if she is travelling alone.
Her wheelchair weighs about 90 kilograms.
"I've had to sit outside at cafes because I either couldn't get inside, or there just wasn't enough room," she said.
"Sometimes I just feel like a waste of space, and it makes us feel like we're too much work."
The Best Thing Worst Thing art exhibition is open for viewing at Dudley House in View Street, Bendigo until Friday, June 16.
The exhibition is provided by Smart Art, a group of female artists supported by St Luke's Anglicare.