Christine Nelson, 41, is one of the artists who have some form of disability whose work is display through January at Blue Horse Gallery, 301 W. Holly St.
The exhibit, called "Stumbling Blocks 2 Stepping Stones: Overcoming Limitations through Art," closes Jan. 26 with an auction led by Michael Watters to raise money to support local artists who are overcoming their limitations through art, and with music by Out of the Ashes and Andy Koch & the Badd Dog Blues Society.
Proceeds will support Art Without Boundaries Association, a nonprofit organization that serves the disabled artists community.
Nelson has been drawing since she was about 2, and painting since she was 14.
Question: What is it about creating art that brings you joy?
Answer: The joy for me is just that, the process. Each painting I create is about learning. Each one is a piece of me, an experience, dream (asleep or awake) or a connection. It's also where and how I get my inspiration. I try to put a thought, feeling or experience into each picture.
Q: What's your career history?
A: I grew up in the Port Angeles area. I moved to the Seattle area in 1992. My first job there was custom picture framing. I've always had an interest in all kinds of art forms, and have painted off and on throughout my life. I've mostly worked in mortgage finance.
Q: When were you diagnosed with lupus?
A: I worked as a personal banker for about a year before I started to have lupus symptoms of double/tunnel vision, severe fatigue, hair loss and nervous system problems when I was 29 years old, in 2000.
It is common for lupus to be different in everyone who has it, and difficult to diagnose. I saw many doctors and have had many tests done. Three and a half years later, I was diagnosed with lupus, Sjögren's syndrome and Secondary Reynaud's Syndrome.
Q: How have these things affected your self-image?
A: Most of my symptoms are caused by vascular and nervous system dysfunction. It has affected my self-image in that I can no longer drive or do most things by myself because of blindness and fatigue. It's probably one of the hardest things for me to have lost my independence.
Q: How did you become involved with the Blue Horse exhibit?
A: Pettis Perry, one of the organizers, was my mom's neighbor for about two years. He was using Facebook to stay in touch with my mom when he saw one of my posts, which led to him seeing my artwork.
Pettis commented to my mom about how much he liked my work and then she told him my story. He contacted me to ask whether I would be willing to show my artwork if he could find a venue. I said yes. He met with Bellingham therapist Jayne Baron during the summer, who also became interested in an art show for people with disabilities. Once he found the Blue Horse venue, he asked if I would like to participate and I said yes.
Q: What do you have on exhibit?
A: I have 12 pieces on display. Each one has a subtle, different style. Most of them are watercolor, or mixed medium. None of them are up for auction, but are for sale to the right home.
Q: What do you enjoy about living in Whatcom County?
A: I live in Sudden Valley. I love the nature here. It reminds me a lot of where I grew up, on the peninsula. Being a Washington native, I feel there's no place like home. There are so many friendly people here, and (in my opinion) the weather is hard to beat!