Monday, June 10, 2013

Maud Lewis: Artist and Juvenile Arthritis Chick

If you haven't heard of Maud Lewis, you're not alone. I've had juvenile arthritis for 20 years and not once heard the name until I picked up a book (that I thought would be very different by the way) on how the arts help people handle their illnesses called When Walls Become Doorways: Creativity and the transforming illness by Tobi Zausner.

Look at her hands :(

Maud was born in Nova Scotia and lived within a short distance of her childhood home all of her life. No one really knows exactly when the onset of her disease was, but it had to have occurred sometime between age 4 and 10 just based on photographs of her as a child. Due to bullying about her deformities caused by JIA, she stopped going to school and began to help her mother with illustrations for her greeting card business. Unfortunately, the bullying and prejudice didn't stop then - her deformities continued to worsen her entire life and she was constantly teased. She eventually married and continued to sell greeting cards. Eventually her JIA-related issues got so bad she had to stop leaving the house, but she always kept painting.

The book points out something that I think needs clarification. One paragraph on her issues dealing with other people ends with:

"When a child isolates herself, as Maud Lewis did, it may not indicate that she wants to be alone but that she needs to be alone because social interactions are too painful" (212).

I certainly agree having lived much of my life like this, but the way this is phrased makes me feel like the blame is somehow on Maud. I dunno, maybe I just read into things oddly, but it does. I want to just say that if you are being bullied or abused, the blame is ALWAYS on the person abusing and bullying and not ever on the victim.

That being said, come check out some of her art!





I can't even fathom how painful it must have been to continue making art with the deformities Maud had in her hands, but she kept going. I wish I had known about her a long long time ago.

3 comments:

  1. Hello, this is the first time I have ever visited your blog, so I wanted to leave a comment for you. First off, I wanted to say congrats on creating such a great blog, my girlfriend is starting her own and it certainly takes some time and effort! However, I will admit that I had another purpose for leaving this comment today. Last month was Arthritis Awareness Month, and I helped to put together an infographic in honor of this widespread event. While I tried to share it with as many people as possible over the course of May, there were of inevitably many that I was just not able to reach during the month. So, I figured that it wouldn't hurt to reach out to some more people this month, because spreading awareness for the many forms of arthritis (such as juvenile arthritis) is a crucial undertaking that requires a little more time. If you are interested then I invite you to check out my arthritis awareness infographic and share it with others!

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    1. Wow, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this amazing infographic! I had not realized that so many children were living with some form of juvenile arthritis. However, I was aware that rheumatoid arthritis can be develop at a very young age. If I am not mistaken, I think that juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of juvenile arthritis. In any case, I think sharing information in this format is one of the best ways to create engagement and awareness. I would certainly be willing to share this with others! Even though it is a little off topic, I would like to invite you to check out the infographic I helped put together for lupus awareness. I think in the effort to grow awareness for chronic illnesses, you can never share too much information.

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  2. https://twitter.com/ArtGalleryNS/status/348119486496395264/photo/1 maud lewis cat meets grumpy cat

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