Chronic illness may feel like an impassible barrier, but it can become the doorway to a new and more creative existence. Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, Michelangelo, and Georgia O’Keeffe are among the many artists whose physical disorders enhanced their creativity and transformed their lives. Illness shaped their work, and their masterpieces changed our world. In the face of pain and disability, they showed perseverance and ingenuity, revealing that life’s lowest moments can hold great potential for creativity and growth.
The artists profiled in this book came from many different backgrounds and worked in a variety of media. But all of them experienced a transforming illness by using creativity to triumph over challenges. A transforming illness can happen to anyone at any time, from early in life to its very end. It can even happen more than once. Whether it is a single episode of poor health or a chronic condition, things are never the same afterward. When Tobi Zausner was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1989, her doctor didn’t think she would last the year, but her life was transformed. For Zausner and the other artists discussed in these pages, the wall of illness became a door of opportunity.
Using fascinating and well-documented life stories of artists and drawing upon her own experience, Zausner offers us methods for accessing our creative abilities and ways to turn a time of poor health into achievement and a more meaningful new life. Creativity is a basic human capacity extending across racial and cultural boundaries, as shown by the artists in this book. In their diversity and their determination they demonstrate that the transforming illness is fundamental to the human condition.
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