Creativity helps Everett woman switch focus from her battle with MS

  • By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
  • Monday, January 23, 2012 6:07pm
  • LifeEverett

For someone with multiple sclerosis, writer and artist Anita Endrezze is a darn active woman.

She’s working on a new book-cover design. She belongs to a community of female artists who create art for charity. She has a new book of poems being released this month, and she recently taught herself to draw with colored pencils.

Endrezze also has a speaking engagement coming up.

Endrezze is presenting a talk and slide show on “How Art Helps: Coping with Disabilities Through Art,” at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Everett Public Library, 2702 Hoyt Ave., Everett.

Endrezze has MS, a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Even so, Endrezze takes on projects like she takes on life:

“I do feel you don’t have to fold up your life when something bad happens.”

Part of Endrezze’s talk will offer tips on how people with disabilities and illness can switch their focus — from themselves to accomplishments.

Endrezze will share eight tips for using art to help with the coping.

For instance, Endrezze suggests creating an “altered book” where you buy a book from a thrift store and alter the pages by painting on them, pasting in photos or cutting shapes onto pages.

Coping techniques can also include listening to music, going to a play or looking at beautiful art.

It’s not mandatory to be artistic, but you have to be willing and wanting to get out of your own head.

“I feel an accomplishment with my projects,” Endrezze, 59, said. “If you can’t do something artistically, just being there with your family and children may be enough. Maybe making a meal once a week, just something so you don’t feel like you are being shunted in a forgotten place.”

Being mostly housebound, Endrezze said connecting with other artists on the Internet has added to her life, in terms of art and friendships.

One woman found Endrezze on the Web and emailed her out of the blue. The woman, Lulu, wanted to be a painter and Endrezze offered advice. Through the years, the two women became Web buddies and Lulu became a good artist. The women met for the first time a year ago.

Endrezze became part of Lulu’s group of women who all work on an art project together. Endrezze coined the name, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Painting, for one piece the group worked on and donated to the Shriners, a nonprofit that provides health care to children.

Endrezze, a half-and-half blend of American Indian and European ancestry, started out as a journalist but took an introduction to poetry class at Eastern Washington University and never looked back.

With a masters degree in creative writing from EWU, she has published several books including “Throwing Fire at the Sun, Water at the Moon” and “At the Helm of Twilight.”

She has received the Washington Writers Award, the Artist Trust GAP Award, the Weyerhaeuser/Bumbershoot Award, and was an Inquiring Mind speaker for the Washington Humanities Commission.

Her writing has been translated into nine languages with her work appearing in national anthologies and textbooks. She has traveled to France and England to present her work, and worked as a tutor, teacher and adjunct in colleges and a university.

Endrezze has a book of poems coming out this month called “Breaking Edges,” along with a book of short stories being published next fall called “Butterfly Moon.”

“I think I am successful in getting published, and I have a pretty good reputation in the literary community, though I don’t get paid very much,” Endrezze joked.

Endrezze said she could sell more if she did book tours. But these days that is not realistic.

Endrezze had to stop driving two years ago and, if driving today, would have to use her hands to lift her legs to the pedals. Even going for a walk is a challenge. Going outdoors on a snowy day is out of the question.

The shock of her MS still slaps her in the face every morning.

“So you have to make a constant readjustment of your reality,” she said.

Endrezze does have her husband, John Hansen, to help her out, two children and a new kitten to keep things lively. Her writing and art keep her focused on things other than her illness.

As an artist, Endrezze produces vivid acrylic paintings and collages, some abstract, some beautiful and haunting. Her work has been exhibited in Europe and the United States.

In the past couple of weeks, Endrezze has taken up drawing with colored pencil. It’s challenging to learn the intricacies of shading, she said. And she made life a little easier for herself: Now she doesn’t have to carry a jar of water as she did with acrylics.

Endrezze’s journey of coping continues.

Meet the artist

“How Art Helps: Coping with Disabilities Through Art,” presented by writer and artist Anita Endrezze: 2 p.m. Saturday, Everett Library Auditorium, 2702 Hoyt Ave., Everett. Endrezze will present a reading, slide show and discussion of how art has helped her cope with MS. Endrezze will also show some of her acrylic paintings and collage art.

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