‘If it wasn’t for my art, I don’t think I would be alive today.’
“I am an artist who shouldn’t be alive. In 2013, I survived a car crash on the Southern State Parkway where my car was hit, went airborne, spun and landed on the grass median, only to be hit for a second time by the same car on the driver-side door.
“I survived the accident, but I suffered memory loss, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and permanent disabilities. Art has helped me heal. If it wasn’t for my art, I don’t think I would be alive today. I’ve always been a creative person.
“I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. I received a BFA in textile/surface design and was classically trained in watercolor gouache. I got a great job in Manhattan.
“The TBI affected my job because I simply couldn’t translate what was in my head onto paper. I eventually had to give up my career. In December of 2018, I decided to dive back into art. I brought an easel, a canvas, oil paints and brushes and started painting over my accident report and doctor’s notes. It was very therapeutic.
“From there, I started painting with acrylic paints, and I then discovered alcohol ink, which produces such vivid and saturated colors. One day, I got frustrated and set a piece of yupo paper on fire. Instead of burning like normal paper, it started to mold itself into a three-dimensional shape. This appealed to me, and I started creating three-dimensional sculptural wall hangings.
“As I created pieces, I went into a meditative state and my memories — which had been lost during the accident — started coming back to me! I started calling this series of work my ‘Hearts’ because they kind of look like hearts, and they helped me recover my memories, essentially bringing pieces of my heart back to me.
“I can say things through creating that I can’t express in words, and it has also helped me find a community of likeminded people. In September of 2022, I entered a juried art show at the Babylon Arts Council, where I won first place and third place for sculpture.
“It’s wonderful to have my work recognized, as I’m still getting used to being called an artist, because I primarily do this for my mental health. I’m just happy that my work connects with people and brings them joy.”