Artist Morgan Adams works on a painting at her Beach Park home. – Adams photo
by Tina Johansson
Morgan Adams of Beach Park was surprised when she opened her email recently and saw that she had been selected for a first place spot in a nationwide art competition.
Adams, 37, who is self taught has only been painting for about three years. She entered the EveryLife Foundation’s 2016 Rare Artist contest on a whim, never believing she would really win. “I’ve wanted to enter before, but I just didn’t have the confidence. I didn’t think I was good enough. This win shows I am serious,” she said.
The annual competition is for individuals battling any of the 7,000 rare diseases affecting people in the United States. Adams has one. Several years ago, the former assistant to the vice president of corporate finance at Uline discovered she had a rare sleeping disorder called Narcolepsy. To make matters worse, her condition has coupled with Cataplexy, a sudden episode of muscle weakness. “Certain triggers will make me go limp,” she explained.
This is quite an honor that I get to use my art to create awareness for narcolepsy.” – Morgan Adams, Beach Park artist
Winning the competition’s Adult category—voting done by the judges—gave Adams proof that she certainly is quite good at her craft.
Her winning painting titled “Loud and Proud” will be displayed on Capitol Hill March 2 as part of National Rare Disease Week.
The win earns Adams a $500 Visa gift card and a trip to an artist’s reception in Washington, D.C. She is getting an additional $500 stipend for travel expenses, and plans to attend the March 2 event with her husband Lars Adams. She also has the opportunity to speak about her disease.
The $500 win will come in handy, said Adams, who can no longer work due to her condition. “I will use the money to pay bills, and buy more art supplies,” she explained.
More than 350 artists throughout the country entered the 8th annual contest. There were several categories, including Teen, Children and Artistic Merit, and two winners for each category. One winner was selected by the number of Facebook Likes, and the other chosen by judges, which is how Adams won. The other Adult winner, Hertz Nazaire, won for the number of Facebook Likes he received for his work “Ten Redefined.”
“For me this is huge,” said Adams. “I am completely floored. It came down to me and four others, and the judges chose me.”
Adams, who grew up in Lake Bluff, said to her knowledge, she is the only narcoleptic going to the contest reception. “This is quite an honor that I get to use my art to create awareness for narcolepsy.”
The large painting of an adult tiger roaring loudly with splashes of color, appears to come alive. In fact Adams calls it her “living picture” and says it is in a way a declaration of what she has gone through and what she continues to fight for.
“When narcolepsy took my life, I chose to be loud and proud. This painting makes a statement, it commands attention,” she said.
Adams, whose work hangs at The Leigh Gallery in Chicago as well as at Lemon Street Gallery in Kenosha, sold the tiger painting within three days of displaying it. She said the buyer paid $565 for the 24 x 36 piece.
“Narcolepsy canceled the life I had planned, and at the same time it’s given me the opportunity for the life I deserve. “
To see Adam’s artworks, go to Morgan Adams Arts .
To view the winning contest pieces visit Rareartist.org. The next Rare Artist contest will launch in June.
To learn more about EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, visit http://rareadvocates.org/rdw/.