Clearfield artist debuts exhibit portraying experience with multiple sclerosis

Thursday , March 12, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Sonja Carlson

Ceramics teacher Ryan Moffett was in class with his students at Murray High School when he got a disturbing and scary phone call in January 2013.

It was his doctor — telling him he had multiple sclerosis.

“My first instinct was to make art,” said Moffett, a Bonneville High School graduate and Clearfield resident.

He was fascinated with his MRI images, he said, so he decided to use them as inspiration. He then created pieces that would serve as the catalyst for his new art exhibit “BrainWARE: Fear, Uncertainty, Hope,” opening at Art Access in Salt Lake City on March 20.

The opening of Moffett’s exhibit couldn’t come at a better time, as March is M.S. Awareness Month.

“BrainWARE” features sculptures, which are large-scale, coil-built and inspired by ancient Cycladic sculpture. They uniquely include frayed electrical cords, representing the way M.S. — an incurable disease — deteriorates the body’s nerves.

Moffett, 44, said a doctor once explained to him that with M.S., the body’s nerves are like electrical cords. They have a sheathing, and when that sheathing is attacked, the electrical cord’s coating is damaged.

The “Fear” in the exhibit’s title represents how scary his diagnosis was, Moffett said, while the “Uncertainty” stands for the fear that came with not knowing where his M.S. was going to hit and where it would lead. He was able to feel the “Hope” when he discovered the disease didn’t have to change him.

“I found that once I realized I was going to live and do the things I normally do, I found a lot of hope,” Moffett said.

All pieces in the exhibit illustrate Moffett’s experience with M.S. Along with the sculptures, he will be showing what he calls “Wishing Rocks” or “River Pots,” small pots that look like rocks one might find in the bottom of a river, with a painted ring around them. Moffett said the legend surrounding river rocks is that if you find a rock with a ring all around it, you will have good luck. Thus, the “Wishing Rocks” represent the hope he has come to find.

He is also highlighting the physical changes he underwent once he altered his diet to offset his symptoms and prolong the progress of his M.S. with “Skinny Pots,” tall vases that look like they have rib cages and vertebrae, Moffett said.

With his art, Moffett has been able to cope with his diagnosis.

“It's given me an outlet to express how I feel,” he said.

Not being able to explain to others what his disease was and did at first was hard. Now, it has turned into his motivation, and he is hoping his exhibit will help educate others.

“People need to understand what their families and friends are going through so they can emphasize,” Moffett said. “(And) people with M.S. need to understand what it is so it’s not the end of the world.”

“BrainWARE” will be shown as part of Salt Lake’s March Gallery Stroll. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at Art Access, 230 S. 500 West, #125, Salt Lake City. Attending the gallery and reception are free.

Contact reporter Sonja Carlson at 801-625-4229 or scarlson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter @sonjacSE and like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SonjaCarlsonSE.

PREVIEW

  • WHAT: ’BrainWARE: Fear, Uncertainty, Hope’ art exhibit opening
  • WHEN: 6-9 p.m., March 20
  • WHERE: Art Access, 230 S. 500 West, #125, Salt Lake City 
  • ADMISSION: Free

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