North Texas Daily

Local artist uses art, online platform to spread disability awareness

Local artist uses art, online platform to spread disability awareness

Local artist uses art, online platform to spread disability awareness
March 06
10:33 2022

For Denton-based artist Krista Webb, 34, woodburning is therapy.

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

Webb creates and sells art under her shop, Blind Love Wood Burning, as a way to cope with Usher syndrome, an incurable genetic disorder characterized by impaired hearing and vision loss.

Webb was first diagnosed with the syndrome at the age of 19. After failing her yearly field of vision test, Webb and her mother Sue Parker, 61, were sent to a retina specialist for more extensive testing.

A doctor later told them Webb had retinitis pigmentosa, the breakdown and loss of retinal cells that results in progressive sight loss. He went on to explain that when this is paired with the hearing loss Webb was previously diagnosed with at 2 years old, it is referred to as Usher syndrome.

Sue said their family was shocked by this 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 taken aback, — we weren’t prepared for that,” Sue said. “Needless to say, it was a quiet car ride home.”

Since her initial diagnosis, Webb has progressively lost her vision and is now legally blind. She has less than 20 degrees of vision that continues to slowly deteriorate and is deaf without her hearing aids. Despite the everyday obstacles Webb faces due to her sensory disabilities, she said she tries her best to maintain a positive outlook on life and all that she has today.

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

Webb said having wood burning as an outlet is what has best helped distract her from negative thoughts and allowed her to remain 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 the pyrography tools and adapted her process around her vision impairment.

Since Webb is not able to see a full piece with her natural field of vision, she has to take photos of it on her phone in order to shrink the image to a size where she can easily spot mistakes. 

When pyrographing, Webb said she takes the process nice and slow, not only to avoid simple mistakes but also to create the calm, 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 her realize the full potential of her art and allowed her to express her love language of gift-giving.

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

Sue believes Webb’s art business has also helped encourage her to attempt to conquer new obstacles and challenges she previously may had struggled with.

“It inspires her to keep trying new things,” Sue said. “You watch her and see that it makes her feel really good inside to just kind of keep on pursuing this.”

Webb’s father Terry Parker, 60, said Webb’s growth as an artist in the face of her disabilities has shown him and others how one’s talents can positively influence their own life, as well as the lives of others.

“We all have gifts and sometimes we may lose sight of what those are,” Terry said. “Once we when we find those gifts and those things that bring us joy, then that shines through to the people around us and in a positive way.”

Aside from developing her artistic talents, Webb said her online platform has also allowed her to connect with groups of other wood-burning and disabled artists. She said interacting with these communities has given her a safe space to openly speak 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 encourage others when they’re down.”

Webb said she is grateful for the connections and growth she has gained through her art platform. She believes showing others what she has been able to accomplish as a disabled artist demonstrates how no obstacle is too great to overcome, even in the face of adversity.

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

Courtesy Krista Webb

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Samantha Thornfelt

Samantha Thornfelt

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