Taking Parkinson’s Day by Day: A Q&A with Artist Wendell Lowe

A picture is worth a thousand words  that’s how the old saying goes. And this has certainly been the case for Wendell Lowe’s photograph, “Day by Day.”

His image, which appears in the month of April in PDF’s 2015 Creativity and Parkinson’s Calendar, speaks volumes through an artistic depiction of a simple everyday item  the pillbox.

What does the pillbox image mean to you? For many people  not only those affected by Parkinson’s, but also for anyone who has experienced a serious illness or cared for aging parents, it so quickly speaks volumes.

Without any words, we see, hear and remember everything the pillbox means  the nagging symptoms, the complicated medication schedules PD requires, the times we set reminders, the times we forget a dose … the daily effort it takes to fight a chronic disease. Find out the story behind the image and Wendell’s participation in PDF’s Creativity and Parkinson’s Project, and what it means for him to share his work with the PD community.

Wendell Lowe

Artist Wendell Lowe

Q. What motivated you to join PDF’s Creativity and Parkinson’s Project?
A. After my Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2009, I was in shock and denial. I glued myself to my computer and absorbed as much information on Parkinson’s as I could. With PDF’s focus on education and support, I knew I had landed in the right place! The best part was the Creativity and Parkinson’s Project gallery. Having the opportunity to tell my story and show my artwork alongside others from around the world has been inspiring. It also motivated this 61-year-old “emerging” artist to quit lying around thinking of ideas. It’s time to get out there and make them happen!

Q. Were you creative before your diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease?
A. Yes, I was creative before Parkinson’s disease. I’m a retired graphic designer and throughout my career, I exhibited my artwork widely and won awards in my industry. I was also an art instructor for students with emotional handicaps.

Now, I’m still creative but something has changed. Not only am I enjoying the calming and healing power of creativity, but I’m also feeling this extra burst of inspiration that I didn’t have before my diagnosis. I’m writing poems and short stories. I reinvented the way I create art with a large-scale abstract style of photography that I’ve only dreamed about in the past. I know Parkinson’s has taken a lot away, but these days I’m seeing it more as a gift. I’m feeling more alive and I’m doing my best work.

Q. What does it mean to see your artwork in the 2015 PDF Creativity and Parkinson’s Calendar?
A. It has been an honor to be selected amongst other artists from around the world who inspire me. The best part of all is representing April for Parkinson’s Awareness Month! It’s rewarding to see my work and story reach so many others. Hopefully it helps educate and inspire others.

Q. What is the inspiration behind your edited photograph “Day by Day?” What do you hope others take away from it?
A. When I was teaching, my students would often ask me why my hand or arm was shaking. I would tell them that just like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, I need my oil can to live with Parkinson’s disease. The pillbox in my digital photograph is much like that oil can; it keeps me moving day by day.

Whether you have Parkinson’s or any other illness that requires medications for day-to-day treatment, my pillbox is something others can relate to. I know I would be lost without it. When other people with Parkinson’s disease see this image, I hope that they realize they’re not alone in the frustration of remembering to take what seems like way too many medications.

I’m currently working on a line drawing in my “shaking PD style” (like I have a choice!) It’s kind of a self-portrait revealing my Tin Man side. Wish it was done now for people to see, but maybe I need my oil can to finish it!

Mr. Lowe is a retired art instructor and graphic designer. He is one of nearly 400 other artists living with Parkinson’s who have shared their artwork and experiences with PDF’s Creativity and Parkinson’s Project. View more of Mr. Lowe’s artwork by visiting PDF’s Creativity and Parkinson’s gallery here.

What do you think of Wendell’s image? Does it resonate with you? Share your thoughts below.

Learn More

Learn more about Parkinson’s medications and how to get the most out of your treatment plan, be sure to watch PDF’s webinar on Tuesday, April 28 at 1:00 PM ET.

Register for PD ExpertBriefing: Maximizing PD Medications: How to Get the Most Out of Your Treatment Plan

One thought on “Taking Parkinson’s Day by Day: A Q&A with Artist Wendell Lowe

  1. dee anne moore

    Wendell is an inspiration to anyone. Now, with Parkinson, he has simply expanded his influence to those who may be experiencing a sense of hopelessness.
    His familiar graphic design of the ‘little red wagon with children’ continues to be the logo for Riley Children’s Hospital here in Indiana.
    Thank you Wendy for being part of our extended family.


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