Art and spirit
by Joanne Dickson
"It is the sincerity of my effort
that is important." says Joanne Dickson
Joanne Dickson meditates
on how thinking like an artist
continues to support her, even
though MS has made it impossible
for her to paint or draw.
I have always been visually
minded. My first memory of
drawing was at age three. I drew
on napkins, paper bags, anything I could get my
hands or my Crayolas on. Books of family trips
were liberally illustrated with my experiences. As a
child I would rather draw than play with dolls or
other toys. I was encouraged by my mother and by
teachers. In graduate school (Art History) we were
told, “The map is not the territory.” There is no
way to recreate an internal experience by attempting
to draw what we see.
My life was transformed first by societal woulds
and shoulds, and then by something far more insidious.
MS has now numbed the fingers on my right
hand and I can no longer paint
or draw. Doing art is a lifelong
practice, but I have chosen not to
avail myself of advice to paint in a
different way. It is my feeling that
if I could paint in a different way I
would be a different person. This
is true for me; many have made
When I was a kid I would go to
the beach and paint. I would paint
Long Island Sound, or rather my
feelings about the Sound, the sand,
the gently lapping waves, the smell
of salt water and seaweed. Inevitably
a stranger would stop and look
at the canvas and say: “You forgot
to put the bird in.” What did the
stranger know of my experience?
The map is not the territory!
However, we like maps. They
help us get from one place to
another. We fear getting lost.
Maps are comfortable and they
help us feel safe, but the map
conveys little about our inner