This week we feature Heather Krause. Heather is a veteran of the US Army and also an artist. Check out her story!
I was diagnosed with SCA2 ( Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 2) in 2009 at 25 while serving in the US Army as a camera operator/documentarian in South Korea where I married my husband in 2007.
It was hard to cope with my diagnosis, especially in the beginning, my coworkers recommended counseling so I went to therapy to talk it out and they helped me to recognize that even though I knew I had no control over my outcome, my life wasn’t over. After my medical discharge and release, I earned a BA in film and video production, but 5 years down the road holding a job, keeping up mentally and physically was becoming a challenge.
After moving with my husband to North Dakota, I found an art group for veterans where I rediscovered my love for art. I was encouraged to pursue my passions and I started entering shows with great success.
I grew up drawing, spending hours a day getting lost in sketches or painting. I loved the expression of art throughout high school, but lost touch with it during my military service and college. I found I still loved drawing and sketching but I couldn’t hold a pencil as steady or firmly as I used to.
I discovered pour painting after watching a Facebook video and loved it, immediately I knew it was for me, what I love most about fluid art or pour painting is expressing emotion through color and movement.
I wanted to go beyond pouring as a hobby and for myself so in 2017 I started Art by Heather as a small business. In 2019 I opened my downtown studio space as part of “Arts for Vets” a small local gallery, where I sell my original art, merchandise, and prints.
Gradually over 11 years since my diagnosis my disorder has progressed, I may be slowly losing abilities whether it be to run, my agility, my speech, eating, walking, etc. I’ve gained an appreciation for what I do have. My balance isn’t great, I’m unsteady at times, I may use a rollator if needed, but that’s a part of life, I appreciate that I’m able to walk still, unassisted for the most part. If or when that goes, I’ll just have to adapt again. It would be easy to crumble under the what-ifs and whens but that would not be a life worth living. A life with a disorder like this can be dark. I’ve known people who wanted to give up because they remember and focus on their life before ataxia progressed and really set in. You have to adapt and find the good in the bad.
I’ve had to learn to give up control in both fluid art and my life with the progression of my disorder. But through my faith as a born-again Christian, I found peace and acceptance.
I guess this would be my first post discussing ataxia and me, but I’m also promoting ataxia awareness through my artist bio, which I’ve started to mount to the back of my pour paintings to help spread awareness.
I was also diagnosed with AS or Ankylosing Spondylitis in 2018.
Please consider sharing your story – whether you have Ataxia, are a caregiver, friend, or relative. You may fill out the form below to get started.