Published on August 19th, 2020 📆 | 3588 Views ⚑0
Sarah Ezekiel: Artist paints with her eyes
London-based artist Sarah Ezekiel has won international recognition for her vivid, life-affirming images. But her work is all the more remarkable for the fact that she has a medical condition that has left her unable to move her arms.
Ezekiel’s pictures are painstakingly produced, stroke by deliberate stroke, using the movement of her eyes and specialized technology that relays those movements to a computer.
The eye-tracking technology gives Ezekiel a platform for artistic expression otherwise denied her by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease.
Ezekiel showed no signs of the condition until 2000, when she was aged 34. Pregnant with her second child, she noticed some weakness in her left arm and that she was slurring her speech. Within months, she was diagnosed with ALS. It’s a condition that affects one in 50,000, according to the ALS Association, and for which there is no known cure.
“My life was pretty normal before,” she says. “I was a full-time mum (and) used to cook, clean and go to the gym regularly.”
She describes her first five years living with ALS as a “bleak wilderness” and “very lonely.” Today, she can neither speak nor move but says “technology has made my life worth living.”
Artist Sarah Ezekiel in her home in the UK. Credit: Stefanie Blendis/CNN
To interview Ezekiel, CNN sent her questions and she prepared her answers letter by letter, using predictive text. The technology also lets her surf the net, shop online and use social media.
“Peaceful Warrior.” Credit: courtesy Sarah Ezekiel
Although her work has been exhibited across the UK and as far afield as Qatar, Ezekiel says she’s still learning and that there are always new techniques to explore. “When I’m creating, I’m totally focused on my work,” she says, “all of my problems disappear.”
“Vodka Dreams.” Credit: courtesy Sarah Ezekiel
“The odd thing is that my style hasn’t changed,” Ezekiel says of her work. “My Eye Gaze work resembles work I did with my hands before.”
“Cornflower.” Credit: courtesy Sarah Ezekiel
“Being an artist because of technology has totally improved my outlook on life and opened up many other possibilities for me,” says Ezekiel. “I couldn’t create for years and it’s fantastic that technology has made it possible again.”