The Colors Of My Life
Jennifer likes to say that she is a “work in progress” – the term artists use for a piece that isn’t finished. Her Mom tells the story of a piece of art she did in kindergarden of an autumn apple tree. There were very positive reactions from teachers and family. From that early age Jennifer was an artist and life unfolded as you might think, she took classes to develop her natural talent and in 1991 received a Bachelors in Fine Art from the University of Massachusetts. But then unfortunately, she lost all confidence and true passion for creating.
In Jennifer’s thirty’s she was challenged by a very difficult autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis (A.S.). Those years before finding a diagnosis and methods and medications that helped her get most of her ability back were bleak and grayed-out. The pain and disease took away her ability to be creative – the colors were just gone. What she has recently learned is that her perception that she couldn’t see the colors ‘right’ wasn’t simply how it felt emotionally. This summer after a chance meeting at an art fair, she discussed her story with the playwright of, “The Colors Of My Life.” After years of sharing this aspect of her life when advocating for awareness of this difficult disease, Jennifer did a simple search for “Uveitis + color vision” and she was in absolute shock.
Her perception was more than a feeling, it was real! Eighteen years ago there wasn’t much information available online and she had never mentioned this symptom to any doctor because of the all too frequent feeling of dismissal of symptoms but there it was in black and white! One of the symptoms of uveitis (a disease often found in people with a form of A.S.) is that it can cause problems with color vision. Playwright Celia Lewis and I just looked at one another in awe. Her half written idea for a play that she hadn’t quite been able to suss out was now cosmically coming together with my story that was missing elements too. Now Jennifer’s use of bold and dynamic color in her art made so much sense – they are a celebration of once again having something so vital back in her life! Jennifer’s business tagline “Live In Joy and Color” is actually a clarion call and triumph! Celia saw the synchronicity too… she asked if she could incorporate much of Jennifer’s story into her play. Obviously Jennifer was thrilled to be an inspiration for Celia completing her play and the advocacy and awareness it will bring.
The Colors Of Your Life follows Anne LoveJoy as her colorful life literally turns black and white. Anne, an artist who is diagnosed with A.S., has her ability to see color taken away and the picture-perfect world she once painted begins to crumble. Through laughter and tears, she struggles to survive her black and white world and paint her way back to the colors of the life she once knew.
A Bit More History of Jennifer’s Story and A.S. Advocacy
After nearly 10 searching for a diagnosis, Jennifer finally started feeling better after a year on a monthly i.v. biologic medication. Once this happened, Jennifer needed to share about what she had just gone through to try to help others in a similar situation and she decided on a creative avenue to do so. On October 1, 2009 she launched a year long daily “art apple” 2D art piece on a blog where she talked about the disease, the challenges, and the need for better diagnosis protocol. After the successful completion of her year long “Art Apple A Day” project, she still wished to be of help in awareness and in the lives of people with the disease which is when she founded a non-profit called Walk AS One to help other people with the disease.
In 2019 Jennifer decided to make a change from the corporate and non-profit world. As she approached her 50th birthday the thought of this move seemed like a selfish one. After 5 years in Real Estate and a dozen years in advocacy, stepping down from her vision with Walk Your AS Off and Walk AS One was one of the most difficult choices of her life.
The pull to devote herself to creativity and art was SO strong! In her 20’s it was a practical decision to not “be” an artist, in her 30’s and early 40’s health issues and insecurity kept it at bay. In her 50’s ~ nothing could keep her from it!
It was a shift – a deep, confident, knowing – and all the stars aligned at just the right moment. In the last few years Jennifer has developed a strong and solid look that excites her to get into the studio every day! She’s still a work in progress, but she’s coming right along and the play The Colors Of Her Life has given her such a feeling that all is happening as it was meant to. She can always advocate for people with A.S., raise money for her favorite non-profit, and share the continuing story of how loss can be a gift if we keep moving forward, follow our heart, and share with others how adversity can bring amazing opportunity.
For ticket information please visit HERE
Some of Jennifer’s art is on display in the lobby of Footlights Theatre for the months of October and November and a total 15% of art sales there and on her website JenniferVisscher.com during these months of October and November will be donated to Walk AS One and Spondylitis Association of America.
To keep up to date on Jennifer’s latest work, events, and advocacy, please sign up for her newsletter here at JenniferVisscher.com