Making and creating art is known to be therapeutic. Artistic expression has become an accepted form of therapy in all manner of institutions, from hospitals and schools to veterans’ clinics and psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, for individuals facing challenges and working through difficulties. So, for artist Tina Basich Haller, it was only natural that when her daughter, Addison, faced a life-changing health diagnosis, she turned to art as a way to work through her emotions.
Addison Haller was just 10 years old in 2017 when she found out she had scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine.
“When I saw Addison’s spine from her MRI for the first time, I was shocked,” Tina explained. “It took a while for it to sink in about what scoliosis is and how we were going to handle it.”
They learned that Addison’s main curve was 33 degrees. Normal spine curvature is anything under 10 degrees.
“I turned to my art and started creating mixed media pieces right away,” said Tina, who began to incorporate Addison’s spinal MRI images into her works. “It’s been an outlet for me and a way to process our journey with scoliosis. I hope to raise awareness about scoliosis, as it is so common and easy to miss.”
Tina says that growing up, she always had art in her life. Her own mother is an artist, and Tina and her brother were often doing some sort of art as kids, so using art to process the emotions of her daughter’s diagnosis was a natural progression. Addison, she said, was open to Tina’s use of the MRI images in her mixed media works, and now she is joined by both her own mother and Addison in her art room, three generations creating works together.
The images coming out of Tina’s studio are the result more of expression than inspiration as she processes their journey. Addison’s MRI images combine with vintage postcard flowers and hand-drawn focal points to create striking mixed media collages. A professional snowboarder along with her brother in the late ’80s, Tina has long incorporated her art into snowboard designs. She’s partnered with CAPiTA Snowboards and has a line of boards coming out Nov. 15. Each of the snowboards in the three-board WARRIOR series features her artwork. Her mixed media images are also reproduced onto skateboard decks; they are intended to be wall art and not for actual use.
Tina’s Scoliosis Warrior Art series is being featured at Tahoe City’s Trunk Show through the month of October or until her work sells out. (An artist’s reception will be held at a future date. Follow @trunkshow on Facebook and Instagram for details.)
“As someone who battles invisible illness, I’m inspired to advocate for people with medical struggles,” said Trunk Show owner Jaclyn Woznicki. “Art is therapeutic and offers makers an opportunity to be at peace with themselves through their work.”
As for Addison’s future, at 14, she’s now been under the care of Scoliosis Care Centers in Campbell, California for four years. Treatment focuses on stretching the spinal cord to meet the length of the spine to relieve the tension and lessen the curve. With much effort and commitment to her treatment, Addison has grown almost 7 inches, and her largest curve is staying at around 20 degrees, which is safely out of surgical range.
“We are so grateful for this treatment and Addison’s hard work,” Tina added.
She is hopeful that her art conveys a message that inspires others, too, to tap into their inner strength.
“I lean to a quote: ‘You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.’ This just speaks to me and comes through in my art,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about life and how it can come on in such waves of emotions and challenges from just watching my daughter take this on with such determination.”
View her works at scoliosiswarriorart.com.