Sunday, March 10, 2013

Artist Stacy Gupton - Survivor Story


by Chuck Jones

 First, some Announcements:
                             Flower Power is back. Click here >> RRSC Flower Power
                             Strike Out Stroke at Peoria Chiefs game is scheduled for May 23rd
                             New camp schedule for 2013 is out. Click here >> Camp sched
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Introducing Stacy

Stacy Gupton is a Wyoming native, cowgirl, and 10 year, post stroke survivor. She suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke in 2003 when she was a 21 year old college junior majoring in art education. She has been one of our RRSC Campers for the last three years, soon to be four. While Stacy has been living independently for some time now,  her mother, Mona, serves as her caregiver at camp.  

This is Incredible and I Think You'll Agree

Recently, Stacy was commissioned by Wyoming AgrAbility in Laramie to do 12 paintings that they could use to make a calendar. They needed a Wyoming artist, with knowledge of agriculture and a disability. They were looking for someone who could paint original one-of-a-kind images that capture what is uniquely Wyoming - its beauty, its people, and its agriculture. Stacy was perfect for the job. I couldn't get all 12 of her paintings into this article but I can tell you the other six are just as good as these and each one has its own story and special meaning to Stacy. 

AgrAbility is a strong partnership among the University of Wyoming Extension, Wyoming Institute for Disabilities, Wyoming Independent Living Rehabilitation, and Wyoming Services for Independent Living. Through this partnership, Wyoming AgrAbility pools resources in independent living, assistive technology, and production agriculture for individuals and their families engaged in ranching, farming, or farm-related activities that have been affected by a disability, limitation, or injury.

Building on this partnership, plus a nationwide network of state AgrAbility projects, Wyoming AgrAbility offers services and support for increasing self-sufficiency and independence. For more info click on this link > Wyoming AgrAbility

Following is the preface taken from the calendar:

The Stacy Gupton Story

A Wyoming native, Stacy lives in Laramie. The youngest of four sisters, Stacy spent her childhood on ranches in Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, and Colorado. Her cowgirl spirit runs deep, and many members of her large extended family still call "cowboy" their profession. As a youngster, Stacy competed in rodeo - goat tying, barrel racing, and cutting. While she would have preferred to stay on her horse or in the barn instead of being forced to attend school, Stacy discovered another passion as soon as she began her kindergarten art class.

Stacy entered the University of Wyoming in 2000 as an art education major. Life took a drastic turn in April 2003 when the 21-year-old college junior suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke in the right hemisphere of her brain - her artistic center. Stacy's family was warned that, if she survived, she would no longer be the artist she had been. After three brain surgeries, months of acute care, and intense in-patient rehabilitation, Stacy returned home to a life forever changed. With the unwavering support of her family, Stacy fought to regain functionality and to heal her brain, body, and soul. Through her determination, she returned to the University of Wyoming a few short weeks after her hospital release and graduated in December 2008.

Stacy continues to explore her artistic talents and astounds those who doubted her ability to do so. On any day she can be found in her studio working on a painting or a sketch of whatever grabs her attention. Stacy is an advocate for stroke education and shares her story of stroke survival with prople of all ages. In 2009, she and her mother, Mona, wrote a book about her stroke and journey and renewal. Entitled "A Piece of Her Mind", the book is available from Xlibris Publishing >> www.xlibris.com. When you get to this book site, type the title into the search box at the top right of the page and click go.

In Her Own Words - Artist's Reflection

"I was incredibly honored to contribute to this calendar. Art has always been a passion of mine. Since my stroke, it has also been my outlet - a way for me to deal with the aftermath of what happened to me. I prefer not to refer to myself as a disabled artist. Yes, I have a disability, but it does not define who I am or what I can do. Everyone has something about them that makes them different - my differences are just more visible than others. I describe myself as a sister and aunt, a comedian at times, an artist, a cowgirl, a true friend, and as a side note, a survivor."



"All of the paintings for this calendar hold special significance for me, but a couple of them stand out. My favorites are the old tractor and the barn in winter."




















"I could picture myself on the grey horse in the Powder River hills and almost smell the sagebrush." (C's ed note: This painting is also the cover of the calendar)





"The most difficult one for me to paint was the wheelchair and saddle. I had to walk away from that one several times before I could finish it. The concept was so personal - almost too emotional for me to put on canvas. It reminded me of my former life and all that has changed since my stroke but it also reflected hope. Getting back on a horse after my stroke was as theraputic as entering my studio."

"If I could offer words of advice to people who experience a life-altering illness or injury, it would be this - a changed existance can still be rewarding. I won't lie and say life with a disability is easy. It can be damned hard at times. You need to aim high and keep your focus on what's important. Never say never. Get up, dust yourself off, and keep going."
-Stacy Gupton

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I want to give special thanks to Stacy's mom, Mona Gupton, for sending me one of her calendars so that I could do this blog article. The calendars mentioned in this article are not for sale nor are they available for general distribution. While Stacy still retains ownership of the original paintings, the calendars are the property of and for the sole use by Wyoming AgrAbility. 

I hope you agree with me that Stacy has a definite talent and I hope she continues to let it develop. After all she has experienced it still shows through.  

Before I end this blog article I'd like to point out my second favorite painting of Stacy's. (The first being the winter scene with the horse drawn sleigh you saw up front.)

This painting on the left depicts the fortitude that this young lady has. I'm not going to tell you her interpretation of it. Maybe you can figure it out on your own, maybe not, but you'll have to find out for yourself by going to the following link and watching her brave heartwarming story: Click here > Stacy's Video

-Chuck







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