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The Journey of Creation – Featured Artists Close to Chronic Illness

June 15, 2023 • 3 min read
The Journey of Creation – Featured Artists Close to Chronic Illness

1. “Serenity” by Kajal Patel

My name is Kajal Patel and I have been living with Crohn’s disease since I was 12 years old. I’m currently in my last year of medical school, and my passion for medicine was driven by my diagnosis. It was with painting that I truly began to understand “the art of medicine”. Similar to art, medicine is a craft that needs precision but also meaning in order for it to come to life. The acrylic painting I created is called, “Serenity” because it was through all of the years of hardship that I finally found calmness and acceptance within myself. I hope this painting brings a sense of peacefulness to your life as it has for mine.

2. “Grow Beyond” by Catharine Haney

I am Catharine Haney, an eclectic artist as young as I can remember. It all started with finger painting on foggy windows and making puppets from garbage I found in alleyways. I live in beautiful Arrow Creek, BC Canada with my partner of 25 years. We have 3 dogs and a cat and have planted our first little garden this year. I have lived with chronic autoimmune diseases all my life and was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age 25 and Lymphocytic Colitis at age 45.
Art has always been one of my main outlets of expression and working through moments of life and death, and all that is in-between. I currently focus on 3D fluid acrylic paint pouring and soft pastel realistic animal drawings. I love the softer things in life and create most of my artwork intuitively; feeling connected to Spirit. This mixed media piece is 10 x 10 on canvas called “Grow Beyond”. All colors are done in metallic paints and have been embellished to create a 3D effect. Living with chronic illness has caused much stress in my life and I continue to work on intentional living and growth despite the challenges I face daily. It represents the support and services required for people living with chronic illness to elevate past diagnoses and flourish. I am beyond honored and thrilled to offer this piece to the Infusion Access Foundation.
Find me on Instagram
Pastel drawings: @katzee_art
Fluid art: @katzee.artz

3. “Louisiana State of Mind” by Robin Kingham

By day Robin Kingham is the Director of Juvenile Arthritis Family Engagement at the Arthritis Foundation where she supports JA families through programs like the JA Power Pack and JA Summer Camp. By night Robin is the co-host of the Bowel Moments podcast (about Inflammatory Bowel Disease), a survivor, thriver, runner, world traveler, chef, wife, mother to humans and a Golden Doodle, a beach bum, artist and an ambitious go-getter with a badass sense of humor.
Robin has been living with IBD for more than 20 years. She was diagnosed with UC first after having an emergency colectomy but has since experienced additional symptoms that led to a Crohn’s Disease diagnosis. She’s found creative outlets like painting and podcasting to help her cope with her disease and to connect her to the IBD community. This piece highlights Robin’s strong connection to Louisiana and how it has always been home to her despite moves to other states.

4. “Daisy” (Heat Intolerance) by May Ling Kopecky

5. “Dragonfly” (Heat Intolerance) by May Ling Kopecky

This work is influenced by my experiences with pediatric-onset Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was diagnosed with MS in 2010, at the age of fifteen. Due to my young age and the “invisible” nature of MS, I was often met with skepticism while talking about my illness.
In response, my work visualizes how I navigate the world with MS, focusing on my relationship with healthcare, the physical evidence of my symptoms in MRI scans, and how I and others perceive the world when struggling with MS symptoms. Using art as a means of communication, I spread MS awareness and advocate for people with invisible illnesses.

6. “Warrior” by Beth

My name is Beth, and I am the artist behind Broken n Brave. I have Ulcerative Colitis, and unlike most people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) I did not inherit mine. Instead, my doctors informed me I had somehow ‘broken’ myself. These words haunted me at first, but over time they became something I would reclaim as my own. I may be broken, but I am now so much more! My art has become my way of empowering those with chronic illness whilst also normalizing bodies with medical equipment. All bodies are beautiful, your scars tell your story, and in my case, my ostomy bag gave me back my life. I have created this painting to share this message to all patients that they are warriors. No matter how ‘broken’ you are from the fight, never forget how strong and brave you’ve become because of it!
You can follow my journey on Instagram @Broken_n_Brave and on YouTube: Broken n Brave

7. “Snowy Mountain Lake” by Layla Hudson

My name is Layla and I am an artist and photographer. I have always had a passion for both subjects, while mainly excelling in photography more so than other mediums of art. Photographing nature and animals has always been my preference of subject matter; which in turn gives me plenty of excuses to travel. However, a pause was put in to my artistic expressions when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2014. I went through many very scary and tough patches that I never thought could come my way. I spent so much time in the emergency room, seeing doctors, getting scans, etc; all without insurance. I had never been sick to any level of severity before so I never worried about insurance, not to mention not many 20 year old women do.
I had a lot of doctors that didn’t take my case serious enough even though my weight dropped from 155 to 100 pounds in less than a few weeks time. I was throwing up three times a day minimum for months. I was also having to work during this time, making my stress diminish my mental health faster than the Crohn’s was doing to my body. I didn’t give up fighting and pushing for advocacy and had to learn a lot on my own. I finally got to remission, and found a doctor that truly listened.
From pictures to brushstrokes, I now paint these photographs as a way to lean into my artistic side and improve my drawing and painting skills. I love studying the detailed beauty found in nature, and I look forward to continuing my travels across the world to capture these small details we pass by each day and hope to share my art with many.

8. “Rainbow Glasses” by 8 yo Addy

Young Artist Series

Hidden Disease comes in many forms. Eight-year old Addy overcomes dyslexia and lives with a chronic genetic lung and liver disease, A1ATD. Addy’s little brother, Henry, shares this genetic disease as well, but is still too young to quite understand what having a chronic disease really means. What they both know, is they undergo more medical tests than most kids (and the really not fun kind), and when they get sick- they sometimes get “really” sick.
Unfortunately, prior to their diagnoses, they already understood an inkling of life with chronic disease because I (their mother) also live with a rare type of vasculitis – which essentially means my immune system attacks various veins and valves leading to a multitude of health issues during a flare. My children also know that when you live with chronic disease you experience all different types of days, and some days are definitely best spent as “movie days.” Also, they understand that even when you do not look sick, you can still feel very sick, and sometimes it can be hard to explain how you feel to others. Both my children know all too well what feeling sick really feels like, they can see invisible illness where others often cannot. This has given both of them the superpower of empathy. With my assistance, Addy curated this original graphic to depict what invisible disease looks like to her. She titled it “Rainbow Glasses” to capture the unique disabilities and strengths that shade our view of the world.

9. “Bloom” by Becky Hager with Sisters Cottage 307 

This work reflects beauty blooming from unexpected places.
We are SistersCottage307.  Why SistersCottage?  Well, for one, we are sisters, Carolyn and Becky. Why 307? Well, quite simply because we are from Wyoming. We inherited our crafting passion from our late mother.  She did it all!  In the summertime, she would set us up with tea towels and teach us to embroider.  She emboldened a love for working with our hands and creating. That is where our journey began. It is such an overwhelming experience when someone loves something you made with your heart. As a grandmother, a mother-in-law, aunt, and sister, to family members living with chronic illness, it is easy to see the vast impact chronic illness has on families everywhere. This is why we are so honored to join this cause! From one family that lives with chronic illness to another, we hope our legacy of finding hope and beauty in unexpected places resonates with you.

10. Guac & Roll by Ashley Hurst MS, RD, LD

Ashley is the CEO and founder of The Crohn’s & Dietitians- a private practice specialized in helping those with Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis &  Microscopic colitis patients get clarity and symptom relief through evidence backed nutrition. Ashley is also a contributor to IBD nutrition research through Houston Methodist’s IBD center. Ashley’s interest in IBD comes from her own struggle with navigating it and experiencing all of the injustices that living with a disability comes with. She started her business in 2010 and a year later was diagnosed with IBD. Crohn’s & Colitis Dietitians enthusiastically serves the Crohn’s and Colitis community and offers 1:1 and group support for all ages 3 and up.

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