August 16, 2002
Special exhibit at Methodist Rehabilitation Center features photography of disabled artist
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
MADISON, Miss.–Unlike many of the artists who have seen their work hang on the walls of the Methodist Rehabilitation Center art gallery, Rebecca Holmes was an artist before she became disabled.
From now until October, the Madison resident’s photography will be on display at the Jackson hospital in a special exhibit.
Holmes was a respected jewelry maker and found pleasure in a paintbrush and creating beautiful landscapes on canvas. But a serious bout with chronic fatigue syndrome changed all that.
Where Holmes was active and healthy before, the illness robbed her of her energy and made day-to-day living a job in it self.
“I had to give up making jewelry and most days it was even too difficult to paint,” recalled Holmes, who quickly changed directions and vowed to continue expressing herself through art.
The exact cause of chronic fatigue is unknown, but some researchers think it may be caused by a virus or could be an autoimmune disease. Factors such as age, stress, prior illnesses or genetic disposition may also play a role. Chronic fatigue most commonly occurs in women ages 30 to 50.
Holmes bought her first camera just to take photographs of her paintings. After working with doctors to find a treatment for her illness, Holmes enrolled in a three-day photography workshop.
“Some days my health prevents me from even using my camera,” Holmes said. “But most days I can go outside where I really enjoy shooting nature. It’s very therapeutic for me.”
That therapeutic feeling has become something Holmes wishes to share with others -- in a series of greeting cards showcasing her photography.
Her work has taken off so well, that she received an honorable mention award in the 2002 Goodwill Art Show Awards held at the hospital.
Methodist Rehab has displayed the works of disabled artists in a gallery just for them in the hospital’s two-story Atrium Mall since 1995. “I think sometimes when we see a person with a disability, that’s all we see – the disability,” says Teri McKie, manager of the hospital’s gift shop and art gallery. “But the fact is there is so much more to a person than the surface and we all have different talents. Art is one way that many people with disabilities are able to express themselves and what they’ve been through.”
The gallery has featured works including stained glass, watercolors and oil paintings, but these are the first photographs to grace the walls, McKie said.
“Photography is just another example of the self-expression of art,” she said. “It says a lot about Rebecca’s talent that she was able to switch from making jewelry to photography and still have so much impact.”
For more information:
Disabled artist picks up camera to find new talent | The Clarion-Ledger
Photographer Rebecca Holmes and Teri McKie, manager of Methodist Rehabilitation Center's gift shop and art gallery, put the final touches on an exhibit of Holmes' work.