The Turning Point

The Turning Point

Sculpture artist Donald Gialanella turns his stainless steel sculpture “Plenum Orb” to attach it to its base. The piece is constructed from stainless steel objects like hubcaps, coffee creamers, pots, pans and utensils welded into an orb.(Bob Mack/Florida Times-Union)

Shortly after moving to Florida, my right hand began to quiver. What started out as a light tremor, soon progressed into an uncontrollable shaking. It was extremely disconcerting.

After seeing three different neurologists and a full battery of tests and scans, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Just as I was reaching the point in my career where my work was gaining momentum, I was dealt this life changing prognosis.

Recognizing the effects of the disease was a scary and painful experience. I was in denial struggling to grasp the gravity of it. I was devastated. Things would never be the same.

After several months of feeling sorry for myself and spending most of my time in bed, I hit bottom. I had been retreating from life and everything I cared about. Feeling worse and worse, I was getting more depressed with each passing day I realized that I had to accept the reality of my condition and keep working. I finally decided that, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is not the end of the road but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to keep moving and exercising in hopes of slowing the disease’s progression.

Taking inspiration from artists who continued to work despite their physical limitations, most notably Mark Di Suvero and Chuck Close, I got back into the studio. I found I could still work and weld, despite the tremor in my right hand. Although it is now much harder to do simple tasks, with extra effort and maintaining a positive attitude, I can still work in the studio. When people see me struggle to create sculpture in spite of my physical difficulties, I hope it can be an inspiration to overcome obstacles in their lives.


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