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Bring the art to healing

November 15, 2019 by Abigail Bostwick

The sterile white walls and unfamiliar smells of a clinic or hospital paired with the unease of being sick can cause discomfort to any patient, but for the chronically ill, it is often a way of life. 

At Woodruff’s newly-opened Tick-Borne Illness Center of Excellence, one approach aims to soften the burden of being chronically sick through offering the healing view of art. 

This year’s first artist to be featured is Arbor Vitae’s award-winning Nancy Tewinkle. 

“Living in the Northwoods has given me countless opportunities to capture with my camera and brush the amazing nature that surrounds me,” Tewinkle said. “It is always a privilege to record and share this beautiful place. Many years ago, I began a journey in the healing arts. This path has led me to places and faces I’d never dreamed possible.” 

The Tick-Borne Illness Center of Excellence is one of just two in the United States. Bringing it to Wisconsin — a geographical hotbed for Lyme disease and other tick-related illnesses both temporary and chronic — was a collaborative effort between the non-profit Howard Young Foundation and the Open Medicine Institute (OMI).

“When we planned for the clinic we wanted to have something special,” relayed Jillayne Waite, mother of Jenn Kane, who passed away at 42 due to chronic Lyme complications. Waite and her family have been active and instrumental in changing how tick-borne illnesses are treated as well as education and awareness. “If you’re a patient, you might like to look at the art at a clinic. But if you’re a chronic patient, there’s nothing new to see.” 

For Waite and the Center, Tewinkle was a natural first choice for artist of the year. The art and artist is expected to change annually. The application process to become the next artist, or a future artist at the Tick-Borne Illness Center of Excellence, has yet to be entirely established. 

“Nancy’s art is so modern. This isn’t a place we want to be sterile or white,” Waite said. “Art in healing is what Nancy is.” 

The Center’s primary goal is to research as well as wholly and comprehensively treat those patients who have been chronically suffering from the impacts of tick-borne illnesses via cutting-edge research and treatments. The art’s modern approach supports that, Waite indicated. 

“Nancy designed each piece of art in this collection with healing in mind,” said Connie Campbell, clinic program director with OMI. “The displays speak to you and provoke thought. To have her collection be part of our grand opening year is really a honor. 

The Tick-Borne Illness Center of Excellence also aims to engage in active research of people with Lyme disease and other tick-illnesses to create a database that will support finding new treatments, and hopefully, someday, a cure. People are welcome to submit a blood sample for that effort.

To find our more, or to donate, visit www.howardyoungfoundation.org/tick-borne-illness/.

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