Park City High School’s Alexa Kanarowski wins national art award
Park City High School’s Alexa Kanarowski was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Mast Cell Activation two years ago.
Both are chronic and can be managed by medicine, but are incurable.
"It affects the autonomic nervous system," Kanarowski told The Park Record. "The symptoms affect anything in your nervous system but it especially affects the flow of blood through my body.
"So, when I stand up, I don’t get enough blood to my head and I occasionally faint," she said. "I get headaches, experience brain fog and a lot of things."
This past year, 16-year-old Kanarowski, a member of the Kimball Art Center’s Young Artists Academy, turned the negative into a positive when she entered a painting in the EveryLife Foundation Rare Artist Contest.
The EveryLife Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to accelerating biotech innovation for rare disease treatments through science-driven public policy.
It’s Rare Artist Contest was established to "exhibit the unique gifts of individuals affected by rare diseases and to promote the expression of their stories through art," according to its mission statement.
The contest accepts different types of art — painting, drawings, photographs and sculptures.
Kanarowski’s work, "Endure," won the Teen Category this year.
"I learned about the contest last year after I read about it in the newspaper and thought I would enter it this year," she said. "I was really excited when I heard I won the award, and was really excited to go to Washington, D.C., where we attended Rare Disease week on Capitol Hill and a reception on March 3."
"Endure" is an acrylic-on-canvas piece.
"I was inspired to paint it for the Rare Artists competition because it represents my disease and how my body is forced to endure the symptoms but my mind is free to be elsewhere," she explained. "It showed that I can escape my disease through my art."
The project took about eight hours to do and the artist, who used dark colors and shades, did it in one sitting.
"I’m drawn to muted, less colorful palates," Kanarowski said with a laugh. "I don’t know why, but I really like earth tones."
Kanarowski’s road to art was spurred by her time coping with her diseases.
"Art is important to me, especially when it comes to my health," she said. "I can’t do anything else, like sports, but I can do art. It’s a good way to help me cope and has become my passion."
Although Kanarowski does create art with textiles, painting and drawing are her main outlets.
"They’re pretty traditional, but I don’t know why I really enjoy them," she said. "I just do."
Kanarowski, who said she has too many artistic influences to count, was accepted into the Kimball Art Center’s Young Artists Academy last spring and is thankful for the opportunity.
"It’s great to have a group of like-minded peers who enjoy art and it’s been fun doing different projects," she said. "It’s helped me learn how to market myself as an artist and how to behave professionally. And it’s opened me up to new experiences and mediums that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise."
The young artist is planning to pursue art as some sort of career, but is taking things one step at a time.
"I will study art in college, but I don’t know where I will go from there," she said. "I might want to go into children’s book illustrating. I’m working on a children’s book right now, but I don’t know if I want to do that for my whole career."
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