the artist's story
Christy Grace was born in Milwaukee, WI, and has lived most of her life in the Madison, WI area. While in school for graphic design at Madison College, Christy found creative opportunities wherever she could, including cake decorating, face and body painting, and various personal and commissioned artworks.
After graduating from college, Christy Grace continued jobs in all those creative fields while also working as a graphic designer and getting married. This was a very busy schedule, but she kept at it until she was able to move her career's sole focus to full-time professional art. Around that time Christy started dealing with lots of pain that peaked once a month. After struggling with infertility and worsening pain, she was diagnosed with stage IV endometriosis. Following multiple surgeries and fertility treatments, Christy became pregnant and welcomed her daughter into the world in 2015.
Though Christy was overjoyed to be a mom, the pregnancy unfortunately triggered further chronic illnesses: fibromyalgia, IBS, hypermobility, and lipedema, in addition to the returning endometriosis. Further, she was met with both anxiety and depression prompted by constant pain and exhaustion. Throughout these experiences, she used art as a way to document her struggles and put the pain outside herself, making the invisible hurt visible within her paintings.
As she shared her deeply personal work, others identified with her experiences and communicated that they felt seen and less alone. Knowing this and feeling it part of her calling, Christy has begun building a body of work centered around making the unseen seen.
"An invisible illness can be mental, physical, or both. There usually aren’t too many outward signs of said illness, which is why the phrase “but you don’t look sick” is both widespread and completely missing the point." (quote)
Living with chronic illnesses, Christy Grace intimately knows that these kinds of struggles are compounded by the fact that a person on the outside can't generally see the symptoms. There is a battle of inside and outside identity and very real feelings of loneliness or otherness. Grace hopes that her art acts as the beginning of a conversation, a chance to spread awareness and empathy, and a way of connecting with others who need to share stories and feel less alone.
A lot of the invisible illnesses depicted in Christy Grace's art are ones she has personally lived with or seen people close to her experience. Some of these illnesses Grace has touched on or has on her docket to paint are endometriosis, fibromyalgia, hyper-mobility, lipedema, depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer's.
Furthering her desire to spread understanding and empathy, Grace is expanding her body of work to represent even more experiences. She wants to convey that all types of people live with pain and discomfort every day. "You never know what someone else is going through so it's best to lead with kindness and gentleness."
Christy Grace would be honored to hear your stories and to include some of the imagery in her art. Depending on a person's level of comfort, some stories would be shared in the site blog. Grace is also looking for visual references and would love to gather photos of people of all kinds to use likenesses in her art. Please fill out the form below if you would like to share your story.