"I began this piece with only colors in mind. I used acrylic paint, spray paint, ink, paper and gel medium on this piece. As I continued the piece, a tranquil jungle came to mind. This is a piece that wasn't planned out just colors chosen and it evolved into what it was supposed to be."
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Acrylic paint, paper, mixed medium on unstretched canvas
134" x 63"
“A lot of physicians have asked how I am making it through without being able to practice medicine. I tell them I have art.”
Zo’s genesis as an artist was born out of grit, passion, and finding a new path after experiencing disability. Born in Tacoma, Washington, she grew up enjoying coloring and drawing throughout her childhood. She dabbled with art electives in high school, but her true passion was in the medical field. She pursued this, attending medical school, studying fervently, and eventually becoming licensed as a physician. Zo reached her dream and became a proud OBGYN doctor.
Starting in 2003, she practiced medicine in a private practice in Hinesville, Georgia for over 10 years then practiced as an OB/GYN hospitalist in Florida and South Carolina until she retired. Seeing the smiles of her patients and joys of new parenthood deeply fulfilled her. Working in a stressful field, Zo would lean on art after a tough shift or tiring day. When she came home and began painting, the tension of the day subsided, bringing in waves of calmness.
Zo continued her career for nearly 20 years, until medical challenges left her unable to perform the job she knew and loved. Suddenly, she went from doctor to patient, shuffling through appointments, tests and diagnoses, and grappling with the difficulty of loss of ability, career and her passion. During this time, she searched for another outlet.
“Once I developed medical issues and could no longer deliver babies or perform surgery, art was a way for me to still be able to use my hands in a useful way and to create something,” Zo shares.
Zo’s emergence into the art world has helped her to continue to feel motivated despite physical hardship. She has entered a period of learning and healing, accepting her new reality and embracing creating. “I was a practicing physician with plans to retire some time between 55 and 60 however medical conditions arose that have caused me to make changes to my goals and life plan. It made me realize that it is not an end but a new beginning,” she says.
Mainly self taught, Zo is finding herself and her style as she grows. She continually educates herself and tries new techniques. From colorful pop art to abstract pieces and figural pieces, her portfolio is filled with variation. Her process is similarly varied – sometimes planning mentally, other times creating a sketch as a basis, or simply just picking colors and going wherever the process leads her. “I am always intimidated by a blank canvas or paper and amazed at what I create in the end,” she exclaims.
In terms of materials, Zo enjoys creating texture while working efficiently. She often includes lots of layers of acrylic paint, which allow for quick drying, so she can stay in the zone. She likes to add other mediums to build texture and interest, including paper, molding paste and gel medium. For her pop art work, she utilizes crystals to incorporate a touch of glitz and glam.
Partnership with ArtLifting allows Zo to continue embarking on her new passion while giving hope to others who may have to divert their plans due to disability. Living in a smaller city, she is excited to be a part of a diversified art community that will open up new opportunities for her work to be seen and enjoyed. She shares, “My disability journey could help someone who may think they are losing everything to realize that there are other options than the ones they originally planned for.”
Her greatest accomplishment is the success of her children, most of whom are in or have graduated college. Being that she was the first in her family to attend college and then go on to obtain a Medical Doctorate degree, this is immensely impactful. Her legacy continues in her family.
Looking to the future, Zo hopes to continue her journey of health and healing. She would like to share her experience and help others get through their unexpected life changes, as well. Her dream project would be to hold a themed gallery show that included pieces that would show people of different races, religions, ages, orientations, etc and the sadness they have to endure as well as their beauty. When she’s not creating, she likes to read and listen to books, attend college football games when she feels able, crotchet and spend time with her grandson.
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by disabilities and housing insecurity by connecting their art with socially-conscious customers . Learn more here.