Local artist uses art and online platform to raise disability awareness – North Texas Daily

For Krista Webb, 34, a Denton-based artist, burning wood is therapy.

“I even have a shirt that says that,” Webb said. “It’s my healthy escape from my struggle. It is my joy.

Webb creates and sells art in his shop, Blind Love Wood Burning, as a way to cope with Usher Syndrome, an incurable genetic condition characterized by impaired hearing and vision loss.

Webb was first diagnosed with the syndrome when she was 19 years old. After failing his annual field of vision test, Webb and his mother Sue Parker, 61, were sent to a retina specialist for further testing.

A doctor later told them that Webb suffered from retinitis pigmentosa, the breakdown and loss of retinal cells leading to progressive loss of sight. He went on to explain that when this is combined with the hearing loss that Webb was already diagnosed with when he was 2 years old, it is called Usher syndrome.

Sue said their family was shocked by the sudden diagnosis. They had already been surprised by Webb’s hearing loss, as there was no genetic history of deafness in the family.

“We were surprised, – we weren’t prepared for this,” Sue said. “Needless to say it was a leisurely drive back.”

Since his initial diagnosis, Webb has gradually lost his sight and is now legally blind. She has less than 20 degrees of vision which continues to slowly deteriorate and is deaf without her hearing aids. Despite the daily obstacles Webb faces due to her sensory disabilities, she said she does her best to maintain a positive outlook on life and everything she has today.

“I try not to feel sorry for myself,” Webb said. “I’m not someone who likes to be pessimistic when there’s still so much to be grateful for.”

Webb said that burning wood as an outlet was what best helped distract her from her negative thoughts and allowed her to stay productive despite her disabilities. Shortly after being diagnosed as legally blind, Webb was introduced to woodburning by her husband in September 2019. Over the course of a year, Webb learned how to properly use pyrography tools and adapted her process to suit her needs. his visual impairment.

Since Webb isn’t able to see a full room with her natural field of vision, she has to take pictures of it on her phone to reduce the image to a size where she can easily spot errors.

When pyrography, Webb said she takes the process kind and slow, not only to avoid simple mistakes, but also to create the calm and relaxing atmosphere that first attracted her to the art form. .

As she developed her woodburning skills, Webb said she was often encouraged by others to start sharing her work. In early 2021, she began selling some of her pieces through Blind Love Wood Burning on instagram and Etsy. Webb said opening the shop made him realize the full potential of his art and allowed him to express his love language of gift giving.

“I love creating things and putting a smile on their faces when they can appreciate the art just as I enjoyed the process of creating art,” Webb said. “I love the feeling of being connected with others.”

Sue believes Webb’s artistic activity has also encouraged her to attempt to overcome new obstacles and challenges that she may have previously struggled with.

“It inspires her to keep trying new things,” Sue said. “You look at her and see that it makes her feel really good inside to keep chasing that.”

Webb’s father, Terry Parker, 60, said Webb’s growth as an artist in the face of his disability has shown him and others how his talents can positively impact his own life, as well than the lives of others.

“We all have gifts and sometimes we can lose sight of what it is,” Terry said. “Once we find those gifts and things that bring us joy, it reflects on the people around us and in a positive way.”

In addition to developing his artistic talents, Webb said his online platform has also allowed him to connect with groups of other woodworking and disabled artists. She said interacting with these communities has given her a safe space to speak openly about her struggles with others who can relate.

“It makes me feel good like I’m not alone,” Webb said. “I feel like it’s okay to feel down when I’m feeling down. At the same time, I’m also able to cheer others up when they’re down.

Webb said she is grateful for the relationships and growth she has gained through her artistic platform. She believes that showing others what she has been able to accomplish as an artist with a disability demonstrates that no obstacle is too great to overcome, even in the face of adversity.

“Despite his disability, it’s possible,” Webb said. “You just found that outlet, that passion, and you can hopefully do it to not only please others, but also to please yourself.”

Courtesy of Krista Webb