How MS Took One Woman From Public Interest Lawyer to Artist

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How MS Took One Woman From Public Interest Lawyer to Artist How MS Took One Woman From Public Interest Lawyer to Artist

How MS Took One Woman From Public Interest Lawyer to Artist

by Alessandra Rizzotti

March 17, 2013

Jameson working on inking a solarplate in her studio, before she lost use of her hands

Jameson says, "After a lot of reflection and the help of other artists, I decided I wanted to transition from public interest law to public interest art, even though I had no idea what that meant." Volunteering to create a series of portraits of diverse women for the tenth anniversary of nonprofit legal organization Equal Rights Advocates, Jameson found her place in the art world when the organization decided to make her portraits the visual theme of their next conference.

It was after this first success that Jameson realized she needed to do something with the stacks of thick black and white plastic MRIs in her office. She says of her scans: "They are ugly and creepy, but to me, they're the symbol of MS, because I've had tons of them and people with the disease get at least one MRI in their lifetime." Wanting to find beauty in her condition, she spent three years painting on silk, then with the encouragement of friend and printmaker Sherry Bell, she tried solarplate etching, which transformed her work and how she interacted with her MRIs.

Jameson now finds herself constantly experimenting with different artistic mediums and exploring the idea of working with quadriplegics and people with traumatic brain injuries. Her assistant and fellow artist, Michelle Wilson, serves not only as her hands, but also as a collaborator who helps her apply to open calls for art at hospitals. While her main audience is the neuroscience community—her work has been published in Discover, Oxford University Press, and the Indian Academy of Neuroscience's journal—she'd like to reach out to patients and physicians.

When asked what she wants people to know about MS, Jameson says, "One has to work every day to be really resilient and productive. Getting a diagnosis is frightening and no one has discovered how to help progressive conditions. I'm honored and privileged to be able to afford Michele to help me with my artwork and have the wonderful support of my husband, but those without money with this disease? They're as disabled as their pocket books. For now, I'm giving back where I can."

On May 29, World MS Day, become a part of the “What’s Your Motto?” awareness campaign, which aims to inspire people with personal mottos related to overcoming obstacles and dealing with the adversity posed by MS. Show your solidarity with the global MS movement here. You can also contact your representatives and urge them to support continued research funding through National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). More research is needed to find a cure for MS, and you can help.

First image of the artist with her permanent collection at Harvard University Center for Brain Science, "Conversations with Myself: A Brain Journey.”

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Jameson. See more of Jameson's artwork at

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