The Lead On, Creatively series highlights TCU College of Fine Arts alumni, students and faculty who are putting their passion into practice.
We spoke to Sydney Peel ’19, a School of Art alumna, about her unique work featured in a campaign for Beyond the Diagnosis in Times Square. Beyond the Diagnosis is a charitable organization combining science and art to inspire the research of treatments for people living with rare diseases.
Peel has hereditary angioedema and uses her artwork as a tool for advocacy and awareness.
“Art is one of the most powerful tools for advocacy because of the connections viewers create with the subject. The Beyond the Diagnosis project highlights exactly that connection by raising awareness for rare diseases.”
How did the opportunity arise to have your work featured in the Time Square campaign for Beyond the Diagnosis?
While a TCU student, my portrait was painted for a project called “Beyond the Diagnosis” by Jota Leal. I became interested in the project and using portrait painting to raise awareness for rarediseases.
After graduating from TCU, I applied and was accepted to paint a portrait for the Times Square campaign in honor of rare disease day on Feb 28. That portrait is “Owen,” who has Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.
Another painting on display is titled “Bailey,” who has a rare disease called hereditary angioedema. This piece was special because I also have hereditary angioedema and was able to raise awareness for my condition.
What inspires you to create your artwork?
Art has always played a pivotal role in my life as a form of expression and an exercise in resilience. It has the power to impact the creator and viewer, each in a uniquely personal way. Being part of the Beyond the Diagnosis project did exactly that.
I also find inspiration in the children I work with as the resident artist at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. I enjoy working with children impacted by hospitalization and helping instill positive coping skills through art.
What advice would you give to other students pursuing a career in the visual arts?
Art is a powerful and vulnerable tool with a wide range of careers. If you don’t see your exact career already laid out, create the job you want.
Don’t be afraid to go for what you want in life and in your craft. Make art from a place of passion and continue to follow that passion in your career – all the studio hours are worth it.
What’s next for you?
I’m nearing my first anniversary as the resident artist at Cook Children’s and look forward to continuing in this role. I have made beautiful art with children and continue to feel inspired by this experience.
In college, my artistic themes centered around the fragility of the human experience and the body’s relationship with nature, so I look forward to creating art on these ideas and establishing community collaborations!