“Fierce Hope,” a painting by Ray West of Greensboro, N.C., has been accepted into the Muscular Dystrophy Association Art Collection. Now in its 22nd year, the Collection features artwork from people across the country with muscular dystrophy and related disorders.
            West lives with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease which affects parts of the nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement. As ALS progresses, muscles become weak and eventually nonfunctional.

            “Fierce Hope” is West’s first painting accepted into the Collection. Although he had taken art class in middle school, West has only been painting for two years since being diagnosed with ALS. He uses pastels and holds them between two fingers in one hand guided with the other hand.
            West has crafted portraits of many famous people including Lou Gehrig, Catfish Hunter and Andy Griffith and has also donated work to MDA for auction and events. Some artwork has taken as long as nine hours to complete. One of West’s favorite quotes is “I am not counting my days – I am making my days count.”
            “Fierce Hope” is on display at MDA’s national headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., and can be seen here. The piece will also be included in MDA Art Collection traveling exhibits.
            “We’re honored to receive this wonderful artwork by Ray into the permanent MDA Art Collection,” said MDA Community Relations Manager Courtney McEleney. “His work is an outstanding example that shows having a physical disability is no barrier to creativity.”
            The MDA Art Collection was established in 1992 to focus attention on the achievements of artists with disabilities and to emphasize that physical disability is no barrier to creativity.  It comprises 400 works by artists age 2 to 84, representing all 50 states. Each artist is affected by one of the more than 40 diseases in MDA’s program.
            Selected art from the Collection has been exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art; Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center and the Forbes Collection in New York City; Chicago Public Library; Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art; Los Angeles Children's Museum; Capital Children's Museum, Washington, D.C.; and many other sites.

            MDA maintains clinics for area children and adults at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem and at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill."
A Press Release

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