A diagnosis of arthritis means major life changes. Career paths are altered and the hours you are physically and emotionally able to commit to your work differ daily. Friendships, love, social activities and sometimes hobbies are sacrificed to accommodate the problems associated with arthritis. In an interview with the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, Otto Kamensek said, “That’s a mistake. It is often hobbies that make life sweet and help us get through the tough times.”
Otto, an artist living with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, is the new ceramics artist-in-residence at the Port Moody Arts Centre (PMAC). Otto’s love for clay developed over 10 years ago when he was creating masks at the PMAC. In his teenager years, he loved working with three-dimensional works of art, especially when building model airplanes. For a time, he was working full time. In 2011, he regretfully said: “If you put all your eggs in the same basket and that basket is work, when a disease strikes and it causes you to leave your job, life produces a new void. I’ve been there and I don’t like the feeling. People should try to create balance in everything they do.”
Otto is an advocate and speaker of art and health issues. During his year-long residency with the Port Moody Arts Centre, he plans to create a series about his own health challenges with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and how it has affected his body and life. He hopes to help others create and learn about the delicate balance of art, volunteering, health, and living an active life. Click here to visit the PMAC website for more information.