She Shares Her Inspirational Story
Shared by Renée Phillips
Cheryl Rau is an extraordinary photographer and digital artist and courageous individual. You may recall she was one of the artists selected for the Manhattan Arts International “Celebrate The Healing Power of Art” juried competition earlier this year. The exhibition was expertly juried by Lilly Wei, art critic and curator whose articles have appeared in Art in America and ARTnews magazines, among others.
In this competition Cheryl Rau won a distinguished award from Aletta de Wal, who is an author, artist advisor, and certified visual arts coach. Through her Artist Career Training (A.C.T.) de Wal “helps artists make a better living making art – and still have a life.”
Cheryl Rau Creates Art Despite Vision Challenges
When I asked Cheryl Rau to comment about her art and award I was surprised to learn about her personal journey and her enormous inner strength and fortitude. Her poignant statement is sure to provide inspiration to many people who face uncertainty and change.
The artist states, “Just over two years ago, I was diagnosed with a degenerative cornea disease that I had never even heard of, and my initial reaction was terror at the possibility of losing my vision and with it the ability to do what mattered to me most, my photography.
“The best cornea surgeon in the city has told me that most of his patients are 20-30 years older than me, and he has never seen corneas degenerate so rapidly. The normal progression is very slow over 10-15 years for this disease.”
Find New Ways to Make Art
Her inner strength is reflected in her statement: “Obviously, the universe was sending me an important message: ‘Make art a different way.’”
“In the months just before and following my cornea transplant in my right eye, I simply could not see well enough through the viewfinder of my camera to shoot. I began experimenting with digital collage and painting on my computer. Last year, I made a lot of really bad art that never saw the light of day.”
She continues, “Early this year, I began creating the abstract digital art in the series from which my winning entry came. With the cornea transplant in my left eye scheduled for later this year, I am uncertain what sort of art I will be making by this time next year, but I am determined that I will be making art.”
Cheryl Rau’s Statement About Her Art
“Rolling in the Deep” and “Take The Long Way Home”, shown here, are two images from the artist’s “Abstract” series.
About this collection of art she states, “Each image in this body of work began with one of my conventional photographs, which I completely transformed in Adobe Photoshop using multiple effects, filters, and layers. As you may guess from the titles, I always listen to music while I am working at the computer. When I begin each piece, I have no clear idea of what the final image will be. The genre, tempo, and lyrics influence the movements of my hands during the creative process.”
The Award Sent A Message to “Keep Going”
Rau explains, “Being selected for this exhibition was both an honor and a validation from respected jurors that this new work has merit beyond the great satisfaction I derive from creating it. I believe that winning the “Aletta de Wal Artist Career Training Award” was the universe hitting me over the head just in case I still wasn’t getting the message. ‘Yes, you are on the right path. Keep going.’”
Sharing Artists’ Stories Is Also Part of the Healing Process
As many artists who submitted their art to the Manhattan Arts International “Celebrate The Healing Power of Art” competition prove their art often is a healing process for them and it may also provide a healing experience for the viewer. Sharing artists’ stories, like the one Cheryl has graciously provided, brings this to light. It adds another important aspect about the value of art and its ability to heal.
If life throws you a curve ball and you are faced with a challenge, no matter how traumatic and frightening it may be, remember Cheryl Rau and her inspiring story of courage and commitment. She reminds us of the relentless creative spirit within that inspires us to “make art a different way” and to “keep going”.
Visit Cheryl Rau’s Website at www.cherylrauphotography.com/
Celebrate The Healing Power of Art 2015
Manhattan Arts International is now preparing its next Celebrate The Healing Power of Art for 2015. We will announce the details soon. We will be asking artists to submit their stories and we will share the winning artists’ statements with you.
You may also want to read Artists With Courage and Commitment.