When I first started writing for Someonelikeme.ca, I wrote a post about The Art of Healing that talked about my journey as an artist who unexpectedly lost all the feeling in my hands. I talked about how I adapted to this devastating loss and eventually “found” photography. Since that time, I have continued my exploration of the world through the lense and I’ve come a long way from where I started.
Taking on photography at the beginning of last year was a huge leap for me. Oh sure, I’d snapped quick photos of the family over the years like everyone else, but I wouldn’t even dare to say that any of those was artistic in the slightest. I never for one second considered myself competent with a camera. By the time I’d completed my first class, I was so inspired, I asked for a DSLR for my birthday.
Because I have been taking classes non-stop for the last 14 months, I have developed a large body of work over that time. I can’t say that I’ve ever accomplished this in any other medium I’ve every worked in. I think I owe it to not only to my phenomenal teacher, Vivienne McMaster, but also to ease and accessibility photography offers. No matter how cruddy I might be feeling on any given day, chances are I can still manage to pick up my camera and shoot something worth keeping.
Last week, another artist friend, Jenn, emailed me to let me know a call had gone out for artists who live with a disability. The show is called Dispelling the Myths: Disability & Art and celebrates Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion 25th Anniversary by featuring the artistic expression and achievement of artists with disabilities, through visual art, film and performances.
It’s never an easy thing to put yourself and your art out there, but with some encouragement from Jenn, I did it. Yesterday, I received an email from the curator and I am really pleased to share that my work was accepted! This will be my first gallery show in Canada as well as the first time I’ve shown my photography so I’m really excited. (And a bit nervous!) Making the decision about what images I wanted to submit for consideration was really hard, but I
went with what felt right and I think it’s a good representation of the work I’ve been doing over the last 14 months.
Four and a half years ago, when I lost all the feeling in my hands, I thought my artistic life was over. The thing is, despite the fact that at the time my hands were useless, I still woke up in the morning thinking about making art and I’d go to bed at night thinking about making art. The core of who I am didn’t change and it refused to be denied. It took some time to adjust (which admittedly wasn’t easy) but I found a way to move forward. Choosing to do so led
me to this moment in time where I am actually going to get to see my work hanging in a real gallery. I’m thrilled that I get to check this off my life’s to-do list in May.
I am telling you all this because no matter what you are going through, I want to encourage you to never give up on your dreams. It’s one of the things I feel most strongly about in dealing with this disease. Yes, MS is going to have an impact on your life and maybe put a crimp in the plans you had, but that only calls you to be more creative about how you go about accomplishing the things that matter to you and if it REALLY matters, you’ll find a way.