I am Anastasia Wilson and I am a female artist who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. I see myself as an artist first. I think of my disabilities as a side note; it is something I need to handle so I can follow my passion. My love for art making assists me to accept my disabilities with grace. When I was born, I had my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and my chest cutting off the oxygen to my brain. Due to the lack of oxygen, I have CP creating limitations of my physical movements. I have a power chair to get around and a communication device to speak.
When my first occupational therapist discovered I had the most control over my neck, my father created my headstick so I could follow my life dream of becoming a well-known artist. My parents expected that I do everything I could do myself. Therefore, I never allowed my disabilities to stop me from following my dreams. I was mainstreamed for most of my school years. I struggled with mild learning disabilities including dyslexia and dyscalculia and I had a couple of frustrating years in high school when no one understood my learning disabilities, including myself. I had to fight to get back into mainstreamed classes. I worked hard to attend the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and enjoyed getting my BA in Art and a minor in English. I graduated cum laude.
During my last few years of college, my health declined. After I graduated, I had a stomach surgery that did not go well. I was very sick for four years and I stayed with my mother while I was recovering. This time was scary and hard. I attempted to keep my spirits up by thinking about my art. It assisted me to keep going when I wanted to give up. I had to push myself physically to get strong and healthy enough to fly the nest and to move to Madison.
I moved into a group home in Madison. While the group home fit my physical needs, I longed for my independence. Happily, I found a roommate and moved to an apartment. Integrity Residential provide us with 24-hour care. When I first moved to Madison, I volunteered at ArtWorking as a mentor. I helped the artists with brain storming ideas for their art, and I encouraged them to focus on their work. I enjoyed developing friendships with them. Now I am opening a small business to sell my works and to enter art exhibitions. My business is called HeadStrong Art.
I am moved to create works that I feel passionately about. The pieces are social statements on world events that reshape our society. I use these works as a teaching tool to discuss difficult topics that people do not want to see an example of my social work are my Sandy Hook exhibition. I painted each child and teacher who passed in the school shooting. Additionally, I did a piece about Joseph Kony. He is a warlord in Uganda who kidnapped children to make them soldiers. I poured my emotions about those tragedies into the paintings. I hope these pieces open the viewer’s’ eyes to experiences that they might not have being willing to previously explore.
Additionally, my art is a self-expression that informs the viewers of what is going on in my soul. I learned how to express my feelings with art from an early age because it was difficult to communicate orally due to my Cerebral Palsy and my Dyslexia. I do not say this lightly because I have an English minor and I fell in love with the written word in college. However, the visual arts are my first passion. Additionally, I use my art as a therapeutic outlet for myself and my viewers. Oftentimes, I enter a meditative state and I can forget the world for a while; especially when I am mixing my hues. One of my main joys in painting is to create my own hues, and I love to manipulate colors to reflect my emotional state and it relaxes me. I can step out of myself for a couple of hours. Oils provide me more time to play with the hues. When I paint, I feel as if I am overcoming my limitations because I am doing what most people cannot do. My art keeps me motivated, and it assists me with coping with the roller coaster of life.