For my project, I wanted to depict my interpretation of what living with OI must be like. Osteogenesis Imperfecta causes bones to be extremely brittle, and can start in childhood or even in the womb. It is described as having “bones of glass” which is what I based my piece on. I used real broken glass radiating out from fractures in the figure’s bone to represent that. People with OI can break bones extremely easily and their bone cells are defective so they cannot repair the fractures. To illustrate this extreme fragility, in a video I watched, parents described having needed three people to change their daughter’s diaper. They required one set of hands to carefully lift her pelvis, a set of hands to hold her legs, and another set of hands to hold her arms and chest since babies can have a startle reflex. The father described holding her arms too loosely one occasion, and when she had a sudden startle reflex, her arm snapped against the soft surface of the palm of his hand. That was all it took.

In my painting, the figure is seated in a wheelchair morosely over medical bills. This is because in the piece I was able to expand on things that didn’t have relevance to the essay, such as the financial distress of having this genetic disorder. OI tends to really effect those who are impoverished. In a world where bumping shoulders in a crowded hallway can cause a shattered arm, it is hard for those suffering with OI to get jobs. Ladders, shelves, and other people can be a cause for disaster in ways those who don’t suffer from OI couldn’t understand. These people often go without treatment. The other end of that are the instances where someone is born impoverished and happens to also be born with OI. In both cases, it is extremely hard to get treatment that is needed, and these people are trapped in a financial hole that keeps it that way. It’s actually quite common for people to fracture or break and continue about their lives (because what else can they do?) and then the fractures heal incorrectly over time leading to deformities.

I wanted lots of colors. The chaotic, abstract nature of the painting is an attempt to communicate the chaotic manner of the figure’s medical life. In my mind, the figure is young adult aged (as OI causes brittle bones in all ages, usually being discovered during childhood) and who utilizes a wheelchair, as many people with OI do. This can be because of misshapen bones or fractures in the legs.

Created with acrylic paints, coke bottles, random glass shards, posca pens and art crayons.

One Comment

  1. Osteogenesis Imperfects causes bones to be extremely brittle described as “bones of glass”. People with this disease are unable to repair bone fractures because of their defective bone cells. The quality of life for these individuals is very limited because a minor bump or fall could possibly be life threatening. As a parent with a newborn with OI have to be very careful doing a simple task of changing a diaper because a sudden movement could break the new borns bone or bones. The expense of this disease is also a heavy burden on the family. People have many hospital bills that never stop. Eventually these patients end up in a wheelchair because of the deformities they occur because of the broken bones and never completely recovering.

    Ronald Fowle III

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