My MS symptoms can’t be seen by others, so I visualize them through my art.
by May Ling Kopecky
I experienced my first clear multiple sclerosis symptoms when I was 13 years old. I was diagnosed in 2010, at the age of 15. Due to the “invisible” nature of MS, I was often met with skepticism when I talked about my illness. Many people told me I “looked fine” or that I was too young to be sick. These reactions inspired me to create artwork about my experiences with MS.
I have been painting and drawing since I was a toddler, and I’ve always been attracted to highly detailed and intricate work. Since so many of my MS symptoms can’t be observed by others, I visualize them through my artwork.
I take photographs of my surroundings and then later paint or draw how I felt. I distort the image to reflect my discomfort: edges are blurred, objects are doubled, sections are faded and spaces are layered and limited. I share these experiences to evoke empathy and a sense of understanding from the person viewing the piece.
I earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Minnesota and am currently pursuing a master’s of fine arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I have been an art instructor for both adults and children, and I am passionate about advocating for accessibility in academia. Art can act as a form of communication for both spreading MS awareness and educating the public. Through this work, I hope to prompt others to consider just how much can go unseen when looking at another person as well as encourage people with invisible illnesses to advocate for themselves.