Rogers-Lowell Area News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
1/10/2019 Member News
Mermaid Attorney participates in 2019 Downtown Rogers Art on the Bricks Art Walk, Earns Entry to National Art Exhibition

The 2nd Thursday Downtown Rogers Art on the Bricks Art Walk includes 45 artists, but only one might be compared to a mermaid. Thursday, January 10, Fayetteville Artist Melissa Milton will participate in a Merchant & Artist Meet-Up at the Rogers Experimental House, 121 W. Walnut in Rogers. The Meet-Up is part of the Downtown Rogers Art on the Bricks Art Walk which takes place in nine locations in Downtown Rogers. Milton will be in attendance from 5 – 6 p.m. and will exhibit samples of her work along with other regional artists. This networking event has a “speed dating” format and is designed to connect artists and business owners allowing them to schedule pop-up art galleries in participating locations in Downtown Rogers 

A few years ago. Milton incurred an abrupt change to her career path when diagnosed with a disease that restricts her mobility, including her ability to walk, sit or stand for more than a couple of hours per day. This same disease is providing the opportunity for a once-practicing attorney to explore her artistic abilities.

Milton has a rare disease, Dysautonomia, a neurological disorder which causes faulty instructions to be sent to the body for many “automatic” functions. It sends incorrect instructions to the circulatory system creating limits in how long she can stand (five minutes) or sit upright (2-3 hours). The remainder of her day is spent lying down to keep her blood pressure from dropping so low that she will pass out or so high that she could have a stroke.

“As careful as I am, I still randomly pass out from low blood pressure 3-6 times a week. I am homebound and no longer drive,” said Milton.

Milton took up painting in 2017 for something to do during the long hours she is forced to lie down each day. Where many might abhor the thought of life housebound and on one’s back for 22-23 hours per day, for Milton, painting soon took on a life of its own and has become a joyful form of self-expression. “It has led to me making new friends, many of whom are other artists, despite being homebound,” commented Milton. “It has proven to me, though one door may close on your life, when search hard for a positive new door, then you’ll likely find it,” she continued.

Take that, gravity! Like many who have Dysautonomia, although Milton is quite limited in standing on land, she can remain upright for hours when she is chest deep in the low-gravity environment of water. One time each day she can be found in water, happily exercising her muscles and enjoying a freedom of movement she no longer possesses on land. “My physical therapy time spent in water has inspired most of my artwork,” she explained in her application for the RareArtist Award and on her website. Much of her art has a recurring theme of a person, object, or animal weightlessly gliding about. Milton is somewhat akin to a mermaid—able to freely move about in water, enthusiastically celebrating beauty with her art, but somewhat removed from others in her community due to having limited abilities to walk on land.

Some of her art pieces are underwater photographs captured in the therapy pool in her home. Using the photographs, she creates digital paintings. The winning art piece, “Flora & Fauna,” is a recreation of a photo of Milton’s daughter. The two sat in the bottom of the therapy pool while Milton took a photograph as her daughter released silk roses. Milton describes the painting as follows: “to me it symbolizes one of those moments when life requires you to let go of something you love, and you have no choice but to watch it drift away from you. Like the girl in the painting, we must learn to let go of the roses. Otherwise our hands won’t be free to hold on to the next good things coming our way. For those of us with rare diseases, those roses we have to let go of may be the life we had back when our bodies were healthy.”

Despite limitations related to her rare disease, Milton will be attending The Rare Artist Reception at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, February 27 from 5:00 -7:00 p.m. 

The Downtown Rogers Art on the Bricks Art Walk is the 2nd Thursday of every month from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Washington DC Bound: Milton was selected as one of just 14 artists with artwork in the 10th Annual Rare Artist Contest and Exhibition. Milton’s digital painting, “Flora & Fauna” will be exhibited during a reception in Washington, DC during the 2019 Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill in February. The reception is sponsored by The EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, an organization that works to raise awareness of rare diseases that are often overlooked by medical researchers, medical provider and lack medical funding.