Stroke patient revels in the art of helping others.
At first, Eugene could hardly mark an X. Now, four years after his stroke, the artist once again shines through. Eugene Brown, 74, is expressing his creativity, strength and inner vision, and is inspiring others in artful ways, too. Eugene's stroke paralyzed the right side of his body. For the right-handed artist who once transferred his creative energy through his hands to the viewer in works of intricate tapestry, this would appear crippling.
"I'm a right-handed person. I taught myself to work with my left hand," says Eugene, who creates collages from torn magazine pages, and modern tapestries. "I did it through visualization and hard work. We are not a body working through the mind. We are a mind working through the body. The body will do what the mind says."
"Many stroke patients are discouraged when they can't do the things they used to. I say if you can't do what you used to do, do what you can. And work at that." Eugene's lucid philosophy and eloquent delivery have inspired Brooks therapists and stroke patients alike.
"Eugene's positive mental attitude, will, and tenacity contributed to his recovery" says Kathy Martin, Brooks Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapist. "Based on his drive and inspiration, we asked him to be a mentor and instruct art class. He's my number one volunteer. My hero." "Doing this makes me feel I'm in the right place doing the right thing at the right time," Eugene reveals.
On Tuesdays, Brooks patients look forward to Eugene's arrival. He provides an hour of mentorship and art class. His class is one of the most popular in the day treatment program at Brooks.
"People say they can't draw a straight line. But everyone's creative. I tell them it's your creation, what do you see? Your rose doesn't need to look like everyone else's rose." For Eugene, his rose is a colorful tapestry of the Jacksonville skyline, his first creation since his stroke rehabilitation. He has since continued to create unique and inspiring pieces and these, along with about 20 pre-stroke art pieces, are enough work to display and sell. But the reality is, Eugene's art, like his spirit and inspiration, are priceless.