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After 15 years, the sculptor finds the source of disease: her own art

(newser) –Gillian Genser is a Canadian sculptor who only works with natural materials, and in Toronto Life the magazine tells…


(newser)

Gillian Genser is a Canadian sculptor who only works with natural materials, and in Toronto Life the magazine tells her about her own personal medical mystery. About 20 years ago, she began to suffer from debilitating symptoms such as constant headache, frequent vomiting, aching muscles and cramped hands. Specialists could not figure it out. Did she work with toxic materials, would they ask? Nope, just natural, especially crushed clams for a large sculpture of the biblical figure Adam she had worked with. “I spent up to 1

2 hours a day grinding and grinding the shells to fit into the shape of Adam’s body,” she writes. Symptoms continued for 15 years, then worsened significantly in 2013. At that time she visited a museum and learned mussels absorbed toxins in her environment.

Subsequent tests revealed high arsenic levels and lead in her blood – she had chronic heavy metal poisoning. “My body carries a painful message about poisoning the Earth experiences,” she writes. The 59-year-old Sweater immediately stopped working with the skull, but she continues to “live with many neurological and metabolic symptoms” and says she will never recover completely. Sweater tells Washington Post that she finds it “interesting and ironic” that her statue of Adam, intended as an environmental account of man’s perceived ruling over nature, became the prime sinner. Not so that she blames the mussels. “I feel terrible sorrow,” she says. “We did it for them, they did not do it for me”. (Read her full essay titled “My beautiful death” here.)

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