Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis is a legend in Nova Scotia and in our eyes, a role model to people living with juvenile arthritis. The story of Maud Lewis came to life on the big screen with Maudie, a biopic released in June. The movie features Sally Hawkins as Lewis and Ethan Hawke as her husband Everett. The film, directed by British filmmaker Aisling Walsh and written by Canadian screenwriter Sherry White, focuses on Lewis’s resilience as an artist, despite hardships. The pictures in this article is from Artsy‘s editorial The Joyous World of Overlooked Canadian Folk Artist Maud Lewis.
Photo from Artsy: Maud Lewis, Oxen in Spring, ca. 1960s. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Maud Lewis (1903-1970) grew up in the seaside town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. She was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at a young age. Her arthritis left her with a pained and crooked gait. People would make fun of her because she looked and walked different. Her arthritis pain forced her to stay indoors at her parents’ home. It was here that she began to draw.
Les sciences humaines, qui se déclinent sous plusieurs formes (littérature, musique, art, théâtre) offrent un éclairage particulier sur ce que être humain signifie. Elles peuvent également procurer des bienfaits aux patients et aux professionnels de la santé qui les traitent. C’est ce qu’avance la conférencière invitée du colloque annuel de l’American College of Rheumatology (ACR), la docteure Paulette Hahn, professeure agrégée de médecine et vice-présidente associée à l’enseignement du Département de médecine de l’Université de Floride.
The humanities come in many forms – literature, music, art, drama – and provide us perspective on what it means to be human. They can also provide benefits for patients and their healthcare professionals, said American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual meeting keynote speaker, Dr. Paulette Hahn, Associate Professor of Medicine and Associate Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Medicine at the University of Florida.
In their Fall issue, The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy featured an article titled “Occupation and the Artist: Sculpting the Illness Experience” on a person that is a favourite in the arthritis and art community – Otto Kamensek. In the article, Otto shares what his exhibit “Glimmer of Hope” means to him.
“Glimmer of Hope” is a visual journal of the pain Otto has experienced throughout his life with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). It illustrates the changes and sensations that have occurred in his body. Throughout his work, he uses symbolism to represent the types of pain he experiences and where it occurs in his joints. Lightning bolts represent flashes of pain, needles represent sharp pain, melted down nails represent festering pain, and elongated pyramids represent monumental pain. His sculpture also depicts scars from hip and knee replacements, muscle wasting, and physical changes in the feet and hands.
Rarely, if ever, have the movies depicted rheumatoid arthritis, but last Friday, the movie “Words and Pictures”, starring Academy Award-winning actress Juliette Binoche, did just that.
Words and Pictures tells the story of an artist – Dina Delsanto, Ms. Binoche’s character – who, challenged by advancing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), had to change the way she painted and deal with the emotional challenges brought on by the disease. This is perhaps the first time a feature film has focused attention on rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disease with hallmark symptoms of inflammation and resulting pain.
Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) Founder, Cheryl Koehn, was thrilled to be called on to assist Ms. Binoche in her preparation for the role, and honoured to be asked to review the script and provide comment to ensure the emotional characterization of RA was as accurate as film would allow. Kudos go to ACE physiotherapy advisor, Dr. Linda Li, who assisted Ms. Binoche with the physical portrayal of her character, and Mr. Otto Kamensek, an arthritis community leader and artist himself, who shared his artistic process and art.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the making of Words and Pictures and the awareness it will raise for RA.
#Goals4Arthritis – Goal 21: Art for arthritis’ sake
As the host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, Brazil is known for its dynamic and vibrant arts. Brazil’s distinctive styles of art, include the creative choreography of the Samba Schools, the elaborate custom tailored costumes of traditional dancers, the continuous rhythm and beat of the African, European, and Amerindian influenced music, and the street arts of Brazil.
Today’s #Goals4Arthritis is to stimulate your mind and express your artistic personality.
Street arts – graffiti – are one way for Brazilians to voice their opinions. Some of the street arts for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ are positive and focus on the patriotic support of Brazil while others show admiration for famous footballers around the world. Yet many more are political in its messaging.
How can we use the power of artistic expression convey the story of arthritis?
This art piece was located next to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre during the 2014 TEDx Conference
Public art never ceases to amaze – it might even be a medium that helps relieve pain for people living with arthritis. There is an entire field dedicated to art therapy. Art therapy incorporates anthropology, sociology, aesthetic theory, social action and critical theory to encourage people to become more aware of themselves, come together in a community, and focus their attention on something other than pain. Continue reading →
Thursday’s Tri-City News highlighted Otto Kamensek’s art exhibit Shard’s, Bone Deep, which ends on May 8, at the Port Moody Arts Centre. It encourages the public to visit the exhibit in person to understand what it’s like to have lived through 40 years of chronic arthritis. The exhibit features Otto’s clay artwork and has about a dozen pieces of work, including an interactive piece where Otto created a homunculus puzzle with magnets for visitors to assemble and play with.
Otto’s work conveys the pain behind arthritis, which now affects 4.6 million Canadians and has no cure. The artist was a nine-year-old boy in Grade 3 when he was diagnosed with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Upon the onset of the disease, he experienced swelling and stiffness in his toes, feet, knees, hands, and neck. By Grade 4, his arthritis affected his body and mind, causing him to go from obese to skin and bones – most likely caused by depression. Arthritis ran in his family’s blood – his great aunts on both his mother’s and father’s sides had arthritis, with no access to medical treatments such as those available to Otto in the 1970s.
It was when the Burnaby resident had four long-term in-patient stays in rehabilitation centres that he mastered his craft. Despite getting new knees and hips and trying a myriad of medications, alternative therapies and exercise techniques to gain relief, he discovered art was a way to manage his stress and a “distraction of daily life”. Art also helps him stay active in the arthritis research community and advocate for arthritis awareness.
Otto’s exhibit demonstrates what it’s like – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – to live with arthritis.
I was very honoured to visit his exhibit in person while he was there and even got a personal tour of his art studio. My favourite piece was Angry Joint – a piece where there were angry heads poking out from the knee and ankle of a right leg. Each head, big and small, had its own expression; some showing anger while others showed pain and frustration. The heads marked the location of Otto’s flare-ups, both past and current. As a person interested in the arts, I asked, “Are these expressions and faces based on people you know who experience arthritis daily?” His response was an unexpected one, “I don’t really like to do that. I draw my expressions from a reference of 300 plus cartoon expressions and modify it according to the medium of my art.”
Every detail in Otto’s clay pieces and exhibit had a message – from what he chooses to glaze in each piece to the way the room is lighted to the occasional glimpse of colour in certain parts of each piece. Despite the heavy matter of living with arthritis, there was one piece that showed a glimpse of hope – Arthritis Still Life. This particular piece was of a table and a chair. On the table, small details like a spilled pill bottle with pills pouring out of it, rehabilitation weights, and a pill bottle cap with arrows indicating “twist this way to open” attest to the complications one experience when they have arthritis. Beside the chair is a cane. A lonely vase with a red rose bud in it represents the hope that drives Otto’s passion for art and arthritis advocacy.
Otto hopes that his exhibit will generate conversation about the prominence of arthritis and its lack of government health funding. As the Tri-City News report, 93 cents for every Canadian is spent annually on arthritis research versus $1,000 for cancer and AIDS each. He says in an interview: “Arthritis is not sexy. It gets the lowest funding but has the highest number of disability in the country. There’s an inequality there.” Please support arthritis by visiting Otto’s exhibit and joining the conversation through twitter via @pomoarts and #HelpingHands.
Arthritis Consumer Experts had the privilege of interviewing Otto Kamensek, an artist-in-resident at the Port Moody Arts Centre. He talks about his life with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and how art has helped him during his journey. Enjoy this interview and don’t miss Otto’s Shards, Bone Deep ceramic art exhibit, which will run until May 8. Do you know who has given you a helping hand? Otto does and wants you to share your story via the Twitter hashtag #helpinghands.
From April 17-May 8, the Port Moody Arts Centre will feature the clay sculptures of Otto Kamensek, a person living with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
The Port Moody Arts Centre will be featuring the clay sculptures of Otto Kamensek in an exhibit called Shard’s, Bone Deep from April 17-May 8. The exhibit will be running concurrently with the visual art exhibit of Maggie White’s Seeing Red, Feeling the Blues and Rocking It.
Kamensek has been the ceramic artist-in-residence at the Port Moody Arts Centre since last May. He is an accomplished ceramic artist, a community volunteer and member of the Patient Advisory Board of the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada. His artwork reflects his own health challenges with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and how it has affected his body and the world around him.
Kamensek will be presenting a talk titled “Art & Arthritis with Otto Kamensek” on Thursday, May 1 from 7-9pm. In his talk, he will discuss the release of pain, frustration and stress through art. Guests at the talk will be able to join Kamensek on a tour of his studio and exhibition at the Port Moody Arts Centre. The suggested donation for the talk is $10; all proceeds will go to the ‘OK Bursary’, a program set up to assist artists in financial need. To reserve your seat, please call the venue at 604-931-2008.
Do not miss this opportunity to support a friend and fellow member of your arthritis community! We welcome you to share your experience at the exhibit with us in the comments section below. Tell us what your favourite piece is and why.