The ART of IF

Sue Johnston & Founder of the Art of Infertility, Elizabeth Horn Walker at Advocacy Day 2017.

Sue Johnston & Founder of the Art of Infertility, Elizabeth Horn Walker at Advocacy Day 2017.

I had my first opportunity to experience Founder and Co-Director Elizabeth Horn Walker and Co-Director Maria Novotny's Art of IF exhibit at Infertility Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. Elizabeth asked me to enter my newly published infertility book titled, Detours: Unexpected Journeys of Hope Conceived from Infertility and my In-Fertility & Friendship line of support greeting cards in her exhibit. When Elizabeth initially approached me to join her art exhibit, I was flattered and thrilled for the opportunity to support the infertility community through my writing and cards.

Elizabeth Horn Walker and Maria Novotny Art of Infertility Co-Directors.

Elizabeth Horn Walker and Maria Novotny Art of Infertility Co-Directors.

I know that Infertility is a life-altering disease that affects 1 in 8 couples. I also know that there really isn’t very much support for those who desperately want to have a child. When I was able to experience the other 200 pieces of art work on display during the Infertility Advocacy Welcome Reception, I was amazed by what I learned.

From Founder Elizabeth Horn Walker's homepage on the Art of IF site, "Infertility (IF) has been described as a culturally stigmatizing and invisible disease. The ART of Infertility is an international arts organization based in the U.S. Founded in 2014, we curate innovative and emotionally provoking art exhibits to portray the realities, pains and joys of living with IF. We also design engaging curriculums to host art and writing workshops. We plan educational, outreach events. We advocate for infertility rights. Most of all, we provide support for those living in the shadows of infertility. Through art, we break the silence around reproductive grief and push back against common misconceptions. We invite you to join us in our fight to make infertility visible."

As I studied the pieces of art work that were on display that night, I began to realize that art helps people express experiences that may be too difficult to put into words, such as a diagnosis of infertility, a miscarriage or a failed IVF cycle. People can explore the meaning of their lives in the past, present, and future by integrating their infertility into their life story and giving it meaning. When one turns to creating visual art after an infertility diagnosis, their artistic expression enables them to make something positive out of extremely difficult circumstances. The Art of IF not only helps the artists who have personally struggled with infertility to reconstruct a positive identity, but it also provides the viewers of the artwork an appreciation of the profound effects that infertility forces on an individual or couple.

More Tips on Healing Through The Arts

Engage with art whether as the creator or the observer.  You may be a novice or someone who has put his/her artistic talents on the back burner during your infertility.  Art may help you expand your view of recreation and actually help you deal with the overwhelming emotions of infertility.  Whether you actively engage in art by creating pieces or passively by visiting museums or watching performances, the benefits are endless. Use art to get out of the house, meet new people, and have fun at different art museums. You may want to take a few art classes and attended lectures to learn new things. Who knows? You may even enter a piece of art for the Art of Infertility Museum.

Exhibits are a great way to continually be inspired by visual art.  The ART of Infertility is a traveling exhibit. Upcoming exhibits are being planned for Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and Chicago. The pristine exhibit lends enough space for every piece of artwork to be appreciated and is thoughtfully displayed.

Learning something new at workshops or art classes. Taking up an artistic activity can be therapeutic.  Whether you are molding clay or writing poetry, creating art can make you stretch your imagination and hone your skills. Many times during infertility treatment, we feel stuck and out of control. Imagine how great you will feel when you create something beautiful during this difficult time in your life. Art can be rejuvenating. 

Color can significantly affect your moods. If you take an art class and experiment with bright colors, whether they come in the form of paint, textiles, clay, metal or glass, color can lift your spirits and brighten your mood.

Get in touch with your emotions... or not!  The Art of IF is an unprecedented exhibit that allows people to explore the depths of their physical, financial emotional and spiritual feelings regarding infertility. Conversely, creating art may take your mind off your infertility and provide a much needed break. Regardless of whether you want to "tune in" or "tune out" emotionally, artwork reaffirms to those who are struggling with infertility that they are not alone.

Thank you Elizabeth and Maria for you vision, passion and dedication and for bringing the Art of IF to the public’s attention. I salute you both.

In-Fertility & Friendship,