Young London artist has adapted to life with arthritis
Published Tuesday, September 24, 2013 5:56PM EDT
Many people think of arthritis as a condition that affects the elderly, but nearly three out of every five people with arthritis are under the age of 65.
Jesse Robertson, a 31-year-old London woman, isn't letting arthritis get in the way of a successful career as a painter.
“I was really just confronted with myself and my ideas about disability. So you can either let them take you over or you can fight them. So I was able to accomplish all these details while my hands were deforming.”
Robertson has lived with arthritis for 20 years. It's been a long and painful journey, both physically and sometimes emotionally.
“I made it through school, but it was very challenging because arthritis isn't always visible. Now I have very visible deformities. When they couldn't see the symptoms - one teacher - I did a video presentation – and he deducted marks because he thought I looked tired and sad.”
But while her body was weakened, her passion for art has remained strong.
“I like that I can say a lot of things that are not necessarily black and white. I can express things that have multiple meanings because I think life's like that.”
Dan Knight from The Arthritis Society says there can misunderstanding about who is affected, “Arthritis affects about 50,000 children in Ontario.”
To make it easier to paint, Robertson uses specially-designed brushes as well as a splint. She has learned to adapt her art to her arthritis as well - things like using longer brush strokes rather than finer movements.
That’s because for her, art is a vocation, but also a refuge.
“For however long I’m working on a piece I’m not thinking about my wrists, I’m not thinking about fatigue. I'm thinking about another idea that's really exciting or beautiful. And when I think about those things I realize I’m more than my body.”