“Sometimes, art can communicate what words cannot”

Global update

Author: Simge Eva DoganPublished: 16 January 2019

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A new monthly art series – which draws on the experiences of people with Parkinson’s and their carers – launched last month as part of the Framing OFF Through Art initiative.  

We spoke to Julie B., the artist behind the initiative’s first piece, about what motivated her to get involved, how art can offer a “release” from symptoms – and why the initiative has given her a new perspective on her mother’s Parkinson’s

Framing OFF Through Art is a monthly art series inspired by the stories of people with Parkinson’s and their carers.

Each piece of art is made by artists with a personal connection to Parkinson’s, who partner up with people living with the condition to create art that symbolises one of their symptoms. The pieces focus on Parkinson’s ‘off’ episodes, which are the periods between treatment when symptoms re-emerge.

Artist Julie Beezy, known as Julie B. – who created the first piece last month – said: “I was honoured to be asked to be a part of this initiative. I am an artist and create pieces that can reflect many different meanings, so it was very special to create a piece that will, hopefully, help someone communicate something so complicated and emotional.”

“My mother has Parkinson’s. She was diagnosed about 10 years ago but keeps a lot of her feelings and symptoms about her diagnosis private. Working on this initiative really opened my eyes to what she experiences and how important communication is – with not only your healthcare team but your family and support system.”

For the initiative, Julie partnered with Steve Peters, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2012, and his wife and care partner, Leslie. They created ‘Reflections’ – a sculpture inspired by Steve’s journey with his condition.

Explaining the meaning behind her art, Julie said: “The four silhouettes represent Steve, his wife Leslie, and their two children. The tulip-covered silhouette at the center is a nod to Parkinson’s advocacy and the broader community, which are very important to the Peters family.”

Julie believes art can help people deal with their condition, especially at a time when it is difficult to verbally communicate.

“Sometimes, art can communicate what words cannot. Some aspects of Parkinson’s cannot be seen, so the emotional side of art can better communicate these symptoms. The release this artwork provides, not only creating it but also seeing it, can be beneficial.”

Taking part in the initiative has also provided Julie with a newfound understanding of her mother’s Parkinson’s experience.

“My mother kept things very private,” she said, “and after my experience with Framing OFF Through Art, I realised how lonely it can be. It is important to talk about how you are feeling with your family and care team.

“I hope creating this piece for Steve will help someone else with Parkinson’s live better and understand the importance of communication.”

To find out more about the Framing OFF Through Art initiative, created by US biotech company Acorda Therapeutics, click here.

The sculpture, titled ‘Reflections’, was inspired by Steve’s Parkinson’s journey. 

For more information on Parkinson’s and creative therapies please visit Parkinson’s Europe website.

Read more:

How I got Damien Hirst to make art for Parkinson’s

“I can draw again” – how a smart watch helped a graphic designer overcome her Parkinson’s tremor

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