Winona, Ontario / Canada
We are so excited to introduce Laura Fedorowicz - a colorful visual artist, Chronic Lyme Disease warrior and a mother of two. Laura aims to bring positivity, beauty and hope to others through her art. Her designs can also be seen on various products because she sees licensing as an important part of her art practice since it makes her art and her passion available and affordable to a wider audience.
Laura, you are a visual artist whose work is full of colors and positive vibes. However, you have experienced some rough moments in your life. Could you please tell us more about yourself and your journey into art (brief bio/history/backstory)?
I have been drawn to color and art for as long as I can remember. I had several severely traumatic experiences growing up and I always turned to art as an outlet, and an escape. I went to OCAD University and completed my Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Design. While I enjoyed and valued my program, I had no time to work on fine art during that time period.
After University, I worked in High Volume Retail Management and was a sought after member of the retail community. These years took me away from my art. Life was busy. In 2010, chronic pain and illness came into my life, though at the time, I had no idea what was causing the symptoms.
In 2014, I had my first child, and during maternity leave returned to art slowly as a way to express myself, and do something for myself. When I didn't return to the retail world after my maternity leave was completed, I continued on my art journey. Though, it felt like I was starting from scratch. I started sharing my work on Instagram, and people showed interest in purchasing, and that is how my business side of art was born.
I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease after the birth of my second child in 2017, and so started a grueling treatment program for a disease that is not widely accepted or treated in Canada. My family and I faced an uphill battle, trying to find advocates and to create some sort of normalcy for our girls.
In 2020, after treating Lyme for so long, and only getting worse, my husband and I decided I would go to inpatient treatment in Germany (traveling in the height of COVID). I was there for 3 weeks for an intensive Hyperthermia-based treatment plan. I am now well on my way to health, and art will continue to be a way for me to express my journey. Now, I am focused on the beauty through the darkness in my work, as experiencing illness and being healed from illness is such a gift.
You lost your creative motivation during your art studies as a result of critique. What was the most triggering moment for you and when did your passion for art come back?
I grew up scared to really try, feeling like I always fail. Throughout University, the theme followed me, and because I was too scared to give my all, it affected my studies and my critiques. I definitely had talent looking back on it, but in a program where the workload is so high I worked full-time in retail on top of being in my program, and that allowed me the excuse as to why I did not put enough effort into my work at the University. My professors told me so.
I didn't paint for nearly 10 years after that, as I immersed myself in regular working life. Art kept showing itself to me in my life, and I always thought of returning to my art, or passion for Interior Design, but it wasn't until I picked up the brushes during my little girls' nap that I truly remembered my passion for painting. I have never looked back. Painting that first day led me to my path now, which I know will always be art.
In addition to your original art you also do a lot of licensing. You worked with well-known lifestyle brands like Target, Wayfair, Nordstrom, Macy's etc. What do you like the most about both areas?
My belief is that art should be available to everyone. My goal is that my art in their lives gives the collector a reminder of beauty even in the struggle. A moment and reminder to slow down and really cherish, that although the journey may not be easy, there is peace and presence there. This can be on a phone case, a home decor accessory, or original art on the wall. It is for this reason that I love having my work available through retail locations. Being able to offer work in this way allows people to have access to pieces of my work at different price points. Starting at the low end with a phone case, to the ability to purchase custom original works at the top end.
The feeling of creating a design, and seeing it turned into an item will never get old. Seeing how other brands and retailers stage my work and include them in various collections is a huge blessing.
Some artists have a preference for creating original art. I love creating original artwork - I give a huge piece of my heart to my collectors in the form of original art but the importance of my art and my passion being available, and affordable to a wider audience is why I so appreciate licensing.
You are a mummy of two amazing girls. How has your art practice changed when you became a mother?
My girls brought art back into my life and for that, I am forever grateful. Laura with art is a completely different person than Laura without art. My first daughter was a sleeper. I made SO much art during her long naps. This consistency is when the business aspect of my art began. My second daughter seemed to be allergic to naps and so my practice changed around her schedule as well. For years, I was a nap time only hustler. As mentioned, shortly after the birth of my second daughter, my illness took over, and so art was made in increasingly short and far between bursts. In fact, my business took a backseat to life, and would for the next 3 years.
My girls have always been exposed to my artwork. They regularly paint, draw and create, in fact, it's their favorite pastime. The way my girls create art so freely is really inspiring to e. They have no inner critic. Our basement walls are filled with a gallery wall of the girls' work - they hang up their favorite pieces all on their own.
Now, with the girls being older, I have dedicated myself to more regular art practice as my oldest is in Grade One, and the youngest one is in full-time daycare. This gives me ample time to work through my process in the studio. For the first time in years, I have the time, and space to see where the art takes me - with no boundaries.
For many years, you have suffered from Chronic Lyme Disease. Can you describe the condition and how it has affected your life?
Lyme Disease is a beast. Pure and simple. We now believe that I was infected with Lyme at around 5 years old, and it remained dormant until a normal illness in 2010. I progressively got worse from that point on. Lyme Disease brought on high pain, zero energy, cognitive issues, neurological issues, depression and anxiety, to name a few. My Lyme had crossed the blood-brain barrier and was wreaking havoc on my body and immune system. It causes organ damage as it works your way through your body. Before traveling to Germany, I was on an oral antibiotic regimen for years. (I was prescribed about 60 pills a day on the low end, and injecting myself daily as well.) These medications cause the Lyme to die, which releases toxins into your body, making your symptoms worse as you try to detox the toxins.
Lyme also has a huge mental impact on you - because, in modern medicine, Chronic Lyme is widely denied. I experienced so many medical professionals who were unwilling to help, who accused me of it being in my head, who told me to eat salad and go for walks. Who said I was making myself sick. You begin to feel that your whole world is falling apart. Why you? I have a family, and two girls who I was unable to give my all to and it was killing me.
Prior to deciding to take on this Hail Mary of heading to Germany, I was sleeping most of my days away, and wishing away the moments because I had so much pain, and absolutely no energy.
As you already mentioned, you have quite recently travelled to a world renowned hospital for cancer and lyme treatment in Germany for 3 weeks of inpatient therapy. What was it like for you and for your family?
In July of 2020, my husband and I flew to Germany. The day I was accepted to the Klinik in Germany, the day someone believed me, and said they could help, brought me to my knees. Leaving my kids for 3 weeks seemed impossible, but I had to remind myself that I was doing it for them.
The treatment is controversial and widely contested in Canadian Medicine. I underwent IV antibiotics and Hyperthermia treatment, among other modalities, while I was there. Hyperthermia is when you are put into a Hyperthermia chamber, and your whole body is heated up to 42 Degrees Celsius or 107 Degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature is maintained for hours, and the heat, in combination with the IV antibiotics kills the Lyme Bacteria. They cannot survive high heat. I did this treatment twice. The improvements were felt almost immediately, and as I write this, I have been home for nearly 10 weeks, and I am feeling amazing. The difference is miraculous. I still need to work on healing my immune system as being sick for my entire life has damaged the functions of my body, but with the Lyme healed, I just know healing will happen.
I missed my children immensely. I would draw them a coloring page each day and it for them to know I was thinking of them. We talked on the phone, and I did my best to remain upbeat and happy for them. I could see the Alps from my balcony and the hospital and I painted with my watercolors in my sketchbook each day as a means of keeping my purpose through the grueling treatment.
The kids barely talk about the time I was away now. They are young, and so it is a distant memory to them. But now, I am able to truly be present in their lives, and for that, the trip away was well worth it.
Who is new Laura post-treatment?
Great question. I don't know. According to the doctors in Germany, I have been living in a sick body nearly my entire life. With my energy returning, less time needed for treatment and my body slowly seeming to come to life again, the possibilities are endless.
My art has changed since being back from Germany as well. I am working to just stay present in my life and to see where this journey takes me. I am walking daily long distances (which I could have never imagined doing previously) and taking it all in.
When I was sick, I shared my journey with pain and illness, and now being on the healing path I hope to continue to share my journey to give others hope that miraculous healing can happen. That light does come through in the dark, and I just know that my art will continue to be a massive part of my message.
With more time and energy to devote to my artwork I hope to grow my business, but truly being given a new lease on life to create more art, and to be active in my children's lives is what is driving me right now. It's a feeling I haven't been able to quantify.
What is the message behind your art?
That no matter what your journey, there is beauty. There are moments of peace. The traumatizing moments in my early childhood were dark. My illness was dark. But light has the ability to come through those moments. My illness taught me to see beauty in life more than I ever had. I was able to appreciate small things more because even small wins were big to me.
I paint the world I want us all to live in, the world I want our kids to grow up in. A world full of beauty, color, and energy. A world full of love and kindness. My works aim to bring moments of these things to the collector and to remind them to search for the small wins, the big beauty in their lives, no matter what stage of the journey they are on. We all have our challenges, and that will never change, but we can still collect beauty along the way.
What does your art do for you?
My art allows me to get out of my head and into my heart. Through my art, I pour out positivity and beauty and bring hope to others. Sharing my passion for art and color with others is something that is so deeply ingrained in me now, that I don't know who I would be without it.
Art will always be a therapy of sorts to me, but it also is a world full of possibility. It is allowing me now to discover who I am post-treatment, and I am so looking forward to seeing where it takes me.
Art is freedom for me. Art is the basis of my life. Art is healing.
What are your plans for the future (career, parenting etc.)?
My plan is to follow the natural progression of my journey. I want to build upon the business that I have built, around all the struggle. Having time to actually focus on the business side of art really excites me, but the base of my business will always be on creating art that I love and am proud to send out into the world.
I want to continue to foster creativity in my two girls and watch them blossom into artists in their own right. They both naturally gravitate towards art and color, as I did as a child and that really excites me.
My dream would be to partner with Medical Facilities, (hopefully a charity I will create one day) and provide large colorful, and hopeful art to spaces in which people are desperately trying to heal. This would be the ultimate full circle for me.
What advice do you have for fellow art mums?
My advice would be about patience. Sometimes as a mum, and an artist, we can question our ability to "be an artist" because of time constraints, or financial constraints. We can worry that because we don't have all this time, or we don't have access to certain supplies during this time that our art isn't important or valid. We can wish for more time and the ability to focus on our art.
Rest assured that this time will come. Rest assured that even if your art comes in small chunks, sketchbook sized, or a few marks here and there, that your art is valid. That because of these constraints that your art is even more valuable. You have commitments, and time constraints and you are still making art. You are still showing up.
You are an artist, and every artist has a journey. Your other commitments are contributing to your life, and your art and your art journey is a reflection of your life. Your kids, your commitments, your time constraints - they are informing and shaping your art - and that is a GOOD thing.