HOW IT STARTED:
Rey has been an artist for as long as she can remember and graduated in 2017 with her BFA. College became very challenging in 2014 when her father took his own life. Rey remained in school on her own 300 miles away from the rest of her family despite this to finish her studies. Needless to say it was very rough. One day about a year later when she felt she hadn't progressed in her healing or grief, she decided she needed to change her life so she went to her local animal shelter. That’s where she saw a 9 month old brindle puppy, she signed the paper work and took her home the next day. Basil truly saved and completely changed Rey's life. It’s been many years now and they have been together ever since. A few years after Basil was rescued, Rey met the love of her life, and together they went back to the shelter and rescued another bully breed they named "Seven" (after both their favorite numbers and coincidentally their first apartment number). As the years went by, together they saved another 4 animals from kill shelters (thats 6 in total). Because of her pets and working closely with animal shelters Rey is really passionate about adopting and getting pets spayed and neutered - ideas she works hard to promote through her art and on her social media. With each adoption Rey's heavy heart started to heal and her passion for art rekindled; she had found joy in painting portraits of her own animals - and soon started donating portraits to her local shelters to help garner attention for some of their special needs, and senior pets needing homes. Being able to give back to animals and her community helped Rey heal and is what unintentionally started her pet portrait business which has now been going strong for many years.
HOW IT'S GOING:
The true story behind the "Pain" in @pain_and_pixels is surprisingly not even about the loss of Rey's father. Though Rey's heart had healed with all her adoptions, her body started to fail due to the prolonged emotional stress of his life and his death. Rey has never hidden the fact that she is, or was... a child of an alcoholic, or the fact her parents had owned and operated a liquor store since before she was born until she was about 18. Having an addict parent with 365 days a year of unregulated access to the substance to which he was addicted to for literal decades made Rey's home life as a child notably unstable, and in many ways, unsafe. Such prolonged exposure to extreme levels of mental distress such as living with an alcoholic (which is proven to have the same effects on a child's mind as a grown adult going to war) is directly related to individuals becoming chronically ill later in life. After the death of her father Rey's body finally crashed after having held out for so long. At 22 years old she got a regular case of strep throat and not long after that she started to get very sick - experiencing a variety of symptoms throughout her whole body, confusing her, her family, and all of her doctors. After years of trial and error, medical gaslighting, tests, treatment, and even wrong diagnosis - it came to light that Rey was now living with an incurable and mostly unknown condition called POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). You can find more information about this condition in the artist's blog, but essentialy POTS means Rey is allergic to gravity. Any change in the position of her body directly affects her heart's ability to pump blood back up to her heart and ultimately her brain. POTS notably also affects Rey's vision and most unfortunately, her hands. At any given moment Rey's heart rate (even on medication) ranges from 40 BPM (bradycardia) to 180 BPM tachycardia. The rapid change in blood flow can cause hypotension and fainting, and prolonged high or low heart rate can lead to seizure-like convulsive episodes. Realizing that what she was experiencing was something that could not be fixed or healed - only managed - and would affect every aspect of her body and health for the rest of her life was of course devastating. However, Rey has always and continues to search for relief, mitigations, community, and healing throughout her health journey. More than 2 Million people are currently known to live with POTS, some people live a regular life, and others are bed ridden. Every case is different. Rey teeters between the two and intermittently uses a wheelchair to assist. However, Rey greatly felt like she could benefit from some extra support so one of her dogs was rescued with the intent of being trained as a cardiac alert and response service dog, a process she is documenting on TikTok. Owner training a SD is very laborious and physically intensive and is very challenging for people with POTS, but the act of frequent exercise is known to lesson symptoms long term. Rey is already starting to see improvement in her health, but wishes to remind everyone reading this that there is no known cure for POTS, and even if she gets a little better, she will never be the way she once was. The sales of Rey's art work goes to support Kylo's training (her SD) and Rey's abundant medical bills. Through medication, management, diet, and lifestyle changes Rey is relatively able to lead a decent life and will always find a way to continue to make art. If you are hiring Rey for a private event, reasonable accommodation should be made for her disability (this simply includes access to water, seating, shade / air conditioning, and a restroom).