Learn more about our FREE COVID-19 Patient Support Program for chronic illness patients and their loved ones.
We are all coping in different ways with the drastic life changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic. One beautiful way some CreakyJoints and Global Healthy Living Foundation patients are spending some of their quarantine time is creating artwork. Of course, Jennifer Walker, a GHLF and CJ member who has been sharing her artwork for years with our community, is among them.
Jennifer, who lives with rheumatoid arthritis, axial spondyloarthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, and osteoarthritis — among other chronic conditions — was advocating from the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic for more attention to be paid to the unique needs of immunocompromised and chronically ill. Jennifer has been using her art throughout this crisis to help her address the many emotional ups and downs she’s experiencing. We asked her to share pieces that symbolize them.
To see more of Jennifer’s art and purchase it, visit her Etsy shop JWalker Art.
Here, a Q & A about Jennifer’s work in general and her above piece titled ‘Sadness in Chaos.’
Q: How is creating art helping you cope with your coronavirus pandemic emotions?
A: Art is helping me cope with quarantine and the coronavirus pandemic by giving me a tangible outlet to process the shock, dismay, pain — and more — that I am feeling right now. I very often have an image to express long before I have the words. So this helps me get to those words.
Q: Do you find your approach to art has changed at all during this crisis compared to what you normally create?
A: Yes, it has. When I get overwhelmed emotionally and/or mentally I shut down. I won’t create and have no desire to do so. This is common with creative types. Since I know this about myself, I have entered into an art challenge with a fellow patient advocate and we take turns giving each other prompts. This has kept me fresh and our topics have been fun. So it has become a great, easy and fun way to destress. I get to focus on what I am creating and shut it all out. And the prompts are interesting, funny, light topics. We don’t do anything serious. It has kept me creative.
Q: Is there anything else about your art in the time of coronavirus you’d like us to know about?
A: My art allows me to touch others when we are social distancing. It allows me to get close when I can’t do that with anyone outside of my quarantined space. And since so many folks are tuned in to social media, it gives me the chance to shout even louder and further about the patient experience in such a precarious and uncertain time.
All pieces are digital art. Charis Hill, a fellow patient advocate, is my model/inspiration as usual.
Q: Tell us about ‘Come Closer.’ What emotion is this representing?
A: When the coronavirus pandemic began I just wanted to draw my people in close to me and be better connected to them in the middle of the angst. I wanted that connection at least one more time.
Q: Can you describe what’s happening and why you chose to depict desperation in this way?
A: Touch is very important. I’m an extremely tactile person. This pose is extremely intimate for me. When I am that close to a person it alters my mood and makes me feel more grounded. I feel stronger and more like myself. And I feel close to them in a way I can’t describe very well. That is the kind of intimacy I crave right now.
Q: How are you personally coping with your lack of connection to others right now?
A: This is difficult for me because even if I could get closer to my loved ones, I couldn’t risk this kind of intimacy right now. I am connecting mentally and emotionally as much as I can. Chatting, video calls, and check-ins are all part of my existence right now.
Q: What do you wish this piece to convey to others who do not live with chronic illness?
A: Don’t take one moment for granted with your loved ones. This virus is unpredictable and very contagious. Please follow handwashing and social distancing guidelines. And love your people from afar as best as you can.
Stay in touch with Jennifer and other patient advocates through our GHLF Patient Support Program for the Coronavirus Pandemic for chronic illness patients and their families. We will be providing updated information, community support, and other resources tailored specifically to your health and safety. Join now.