For more information on Parkinson’s and creative therapies please visit Parkinson’s Europe website.
“I hope it empowers people with Parkinson’s to be more open and honest”
Author: Simge Eva DoganPublished: 20 February 2019
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We spoke to Anita Kunz (pictured left), the second artist to take part in the Framing OFF Through Art initiative – a monthly exhibition communicating people’s experiences of Parkinson’s.
Anita, whose work has featured in Rolling Stone, GQ and Time magazine, discusses how art can further our understanding of Parkinson’s – and why her work is creating an “emotional connection and common language” for people living with the condition
What motivated you to get involved in the Framing OFF Through Art initiative?
I’ve been an artist and illustrator for many years, and I have always tried to tackle social and political issues with my work. My first impression of the programme was how interesting it is to use art to further the understanding of Parkinson’s. I am pleased to be able to lend my expertise to Framing OFF Through Art.
What is your connection to Parkinson’s?
Someone I know who’s a prominent designer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. After participating in the Framing OFF Through Art initiative, I realised how little I knew about what he was going through. I wanted to learn more. Being part of this initiative has been an incredible honour.
Can you tell us about the artwork you created for the initiative and explain its meaning?
As part of the initiative, I created a piece of art for Jennifer Parkinson, who was diagnosed with the condition at 32.
Jennifer found that boxing helps alleviate her fatigue and rigidity, and so she founded NeuroBoxing – a non-profit organisation that offers a range of functional training options, in addition to education and support, for those with neurological disorders.
I was so impressed with all she has done, she is a real force of nature and I felt a real need to depict this properly. She said she feels stuck during her ‘off’ periods, and this painting juxtaposes the confinement of her limbs with her fight to live well.
Overall, this painting represents the visible and invisible realities of Parkinson’s.
How can art help people deal with their condition?
We are aiming to use the power of art to create an emotional connection and common language that allows people with Parkinson’s to broaden their understanding of ‘off’ periods and articulate their experiences. I have learned that Parkinson’s and ‘off’ periods can have different manifestations for each person. Our hope is that the artwork available online can enhance dialogue across the community, and educate people with Parkinson’s and their care partners about symptoms.
What do you hope the initiative will bring to Parkinson’s community?
I hope it empowers people with Parkinson’s to be more open and honest with their loved ones and healthcare teams about all of their symptoms. I came into this initiative not knowing the complexities of Parkinson’s or ‘off’ periods and now that I am aware, I realise that open communication is so important.
To find out more about the Framing OFF Through Art initiative, created by US biotech company Acorda Therapeutics, click here.
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