In the Te Paske Gallery this week, there are oil paintings of different caricatures. The paintings are the work of Rachel Mindrup, an artist from Omaha. The collection is called “Many Faces of Neurofibromatosis” and was inspired by Mindrup’s son who suffers from this disease.
“My son Henry has been the motivation behind my series of portraits,” Mindrup said, according to a press release by NW’s Public Relations department. “Through these paintings, I am the conduit, transforming genetic complications into something secondary and portraying the individual personalities first.”
According to Medline Plus, Neurofibromatosis, or NF, is a genetic disorder of the nervous system that mainly affects how nerve cells form and grow. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, there are three different types of NF.
Type 1 (NF1) causes skin changes and deformed bones, and it usually starts in childhood. Although symptoms can develop over time, sometimes they are present at birth. Type 2 (NF2) causes hearing loss, ringing in the ears and poor balance. These symptoms often start in the teen years. The third and rarest type of NF is called Schwannomatosis, which causes intense pain due to the tumors growing on the body’s nerves. Some people live almost unaffected by the symptoms of NF; however, in some cases people can be severely disabled because of it.
Each painting represents someone who suffers from NF or a different aspect of the culture associated with the disease. The artist provides brief descriptions of what each piece is about and the life struggles of those depicted in the portraits.
Mindrup boasts an impressive resume. Her career as an artist, which started back in 2003, includes several awards, honors and grants. According to NW’s public relations department, Mindrup graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, studied figure drawing and painting at the Art Academy of Los Angeles and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Art Institute of Boston.
A public reception will be held at 7 p.m. tonight, Friday, February 7, at 7 p.m. in the gallery to meet the artist. The exhibit has been on display since Monday of this week and will continue to be on display until Feb. 21.