Lois Curtis's Story Continued

Sue Discusses Seeing Lois at State Hospital

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Due to her continued difficulties, Lois was sent to a psychiatric hospital even further away from her community. She spent her teenage years and early twenties in and out of different institutions, hospitals, and private care facilities. By the time Lois was in her mid-twenties, she had spent over half of her life shuttled from facility to facility, segregated by her disability.

A social woman by nature, Lois found the confinement and lack of interaction frustrating and aggravating. She began chain-smoking cigarettes as a way to comfort herself and have something to do, since she was not provided with ways to pursue her talent of painting.  Lois would periodically pick up the phone and call Sue Jamieson at Atlanta Legal Aid, always asking the same question: "When can I get out of here?"

After being released for the last time from an institution, Lois decided to devote her time to art. Her work has been displayed in many different venues, the most prestigious being the White House, where she visited in 2011 to meet President Barack Obama and his family. In 2007, Lois received the Harriet Tubman Act of Courage Award for her incredible triumph over a system that did not think she was worth fighting for, and proving that having a disability did not define her.

Thanks to Tom Olin for sharing the portrait of Lois Curtis.