PXE and Art Spotlight: Kerry Wilson
APRIL 1, 2011
By Kelly Harris, Information and Education Coordinator, PXE International
This article first appeared in the Spring 2011 PXE International MicroMemberGram
When Kerry Wilson was diagnosed with PXE in 1996, she didn't have any informational sources to turn to. "The only thing out there was a really old book, about 100 years old, that said Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum was genetic, hereditary and terminal," said Kerry. After the founding of PXE International, her exposure to the wider community grew. "I discovered PXE International about 12 years ago, maybe 10-12 years ago, and it's been a wonderful experience. It was very refreshing to talk to these people at PXE International and to know that I wasn't alone, and it really helped a lot for me coming to terms with the disorder."
In 1997, Kerry lost her vision after a retinal bleed. She turned to art therapy as a way to work out her frustration and anger, and ended up finding a lifelong passion. "For the first six weeks of working with the clay, I really just beat it up. Really took all of my aggression and anger out on it," she explained. As she continued working with the clay, she found it also helped lower her blood pressure. She cultivated a sustained passion for pottery, and loves having something that makes her get up in the morning. "I like to do very whimsical pieces, that are very brightly colored, and they tend to make people smile and laugh and bring joy to their day, and that really is gratifying to me."
Where Kerry lives in North Carolina, resources for the visually impaired are scarce. Recent budget cuts have eliminated the social worker for the hard of hearing and the blind. Kerry belongs to a support group that meets every week, and together they are trying to raise money for the visually and hearing impaired. She sells pottery at a group member's bookstore and hopes that every time someone looks at one of her pieces they think of the lives they are helping. Ultimately, when it comes to resources, Kerry notes, "There are resources out there, you just have to look for them. Use your imagination, be inventive."
As she has dealt with the struggles of living with a disability, Kerry has found many ways to cope and thrive despite difficulty. Her advice to PXEers is to "talk to other people who have the disorder. Listen to them, form a support group, anything that you can do to help."